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   Cruise Travel - Cruise News

Cruise Club is a free service, and when you join, you will begin receiving weekly updates including the latest cruise news and cruise specialsWelcome to this week's edition of Cruise News, the best place on the Web to find up-to-date information about cruises. To automatically receive Cruise News via email each week, join our Cruise Club.

For up to the minute news, stop by Cruise Talk anytime to post a message or find out what your fellow passengers and industry insiders are saying about a particular ship, cruise line or destination.


Cruise News - June 19, 2017

Holland America Details ms Westerdam Enhancements
When Holland America Line's ms Westerdam emerged from a 12-day dry dock at Fincantieri's shipyard in Palermo, Italy, in late April, the ship debuted major renovations that added many new public spaces and amenities, including two firsts for the fleet: Explorations Central, or EXC, in the Crow's Nest and Rijksmuseum at Sea. Westerdam also received the popular Music Walk venues Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard, the intimate Gallery Bar, a reimagined Lido Market and The Retreat area with private cabanas.

Newly released photos show the renovations, along with additional upgrades and modifications including suite upgrades, enhancements to the Greenhouse Spa and Salon, renovations to youth areas Club HAL and The Loft, and the new Holland America Line logo on the funnels. Deck 10 saw the addition of 25 guest staterooms, including 18 verandah and seven interior staterooms, increasing the capacity of the ship to 1,964 guests.

"We have many innovative new programs and enhancements launching across the fleet, and it's exciting to see them finally come to life on Westerdam, which is the first Holland America Line ship to get Rijksmuseum at Sea and EXC," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "Holland America Line is in a transformative era, and that will be reflected in on board spaces over the coming years as ships are updated with new venues and programming that are moving our brand forward."

Rijksmuseum at Sea Introduced on Westerdam
Holland America Line's partnership with Rijksmuseum — the Museum of the Netherlands in Amsterdam — celebrates the company's Dutch heritage. With Rijksmuseum at Sea on Westerdam, reproductions of some of the museum's most famous masterpieces are showcased at a dedicated space located on Deck One of the Atrium. Guests also can view videos about the museum and its collections on the in-stateroom television.

New EXC (Explorations Central) Program Unveiled on Westerdam
Holland America Line is amplifying its destination immersion experiences with the launch of EXC programming on Westerdam. The multifaceted EXC experience combines a wide array of indispensable travel resources with enrichment opportunities for guests making their travel experience more engaging, vivid and meaningful. Much of the EXC experience is featured in the newly created Exploration Central's hub located in the Crow's Nest, now a comprehensive resource and engagement center with interactive screens and a Virtual Bridge. EXC programming also offers a full EXC Team to engage with guests, EXC Tours, EXC Destination Guides, EXC Channel and Theater EXC.

Music Walk Adds Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard
Guests have even more entertainment options with the addition of Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard, complementing the already-existing and wildly popular B.B. King's Blues Club. Under the exclusive partnership, Lincoln Center Stage showcases an ensemble of world-class musicians performing multiple chamber music programs nightly, while Billboard Onboard features the talents of two pianists performing dynamic shows centered around the interesting facts and figures of the music industry as chronicled by Billboard.

Raising a Glass in Gallery Bar
During the dry dock, Westerdam received the intimate Gallery Bar. The sophisticated venue, serving an exclusive cocktail menu created by celebrity mixologist Dale DeGroff, replaces Northern Lights and is adorned with an eclectic and whimsical mix of artwork including portraits, landscapes, still lifes and abstract pieces.

America's Test Kitchen Receives New Look
America's Test Kitchen also sports a new look with the room receiving a new color palate and enhancements to the show kitchen featuring gray and red motifs as well as new tables and chairs for guests viewing the cooking demonstrations. Produced in partnership with the namesake, long-running public television cooking program, America's Test Kitchen features shipboard cooking demonstrations and hands-on workshops — with topics ranging from creating authentic Asian dumplings to making the perfect pie crust — that will combine foolproof, accessible recipes and cooking techniques that are rooted in the rigorous testing and science-based approach of America's Test Kitchen.

Food and Service Reign at Lido Market
The traditional, casual Lido buffet has been transformed into the Lido Market concept — a marketplace with different themed stations offering a selection of delicious options guests can grab on the go or have quickly made to order. Areas include fresh-baked breads and pastries at Breadboard, classic comfort food at Homestead, dishes from around the globe at Distant Lands, Wild Harvest's freshly made personalized salads, and sweet treats at Sweet Spot.

Service at Lido Market is enhanced with coffee, juices, water and iced tea served tableside, and in the evening the tables have an upgraded setting with placemats, glassware and cutlery awaiting guests after they have selected their food from the new menu.

To further complete Westerdam's transformation, 25 new staterooms were added near the top of the ship on Deck 10. The 18 verandah and seven interior staterooms increase the ship's capacity to 1,964 guests.

Additionally, the suites on board received the fleetwide suite upgrades. The main living area was refreshed with a new headboard, new carpet, wall coverings, a privacy curtain, drapery, bed runner and bed skirt. New quartz-stone surfaces were added to the desk, dresser, nightstands and makeup vanity which, along with new vanity lighting, enhance the cosmetic transformation. Electronic upgrades include a new USB outlet added to the bed's headboard, bedside LED lights, upgraded electrical outlets and a lighted closet rod. Suite bathrooms also were upgraded, including a wall of designer glass tile, new vanity area, stylish floor tiles and a nightlight.

A new interactive television system was installed throughout the ship, featuring large LED flat-screen TVs with complimentary movies and popular TV shows on demand as well as easy access to the daily program and shipboard information including restaurant overviews, spa services and guest billing.

Outside on Deck 11, The Retreat was relocated from Deck 10, providing a quiet lounging area and 15 private cabanas available for rental that offer a relaxing oasis on deck. Various other public spaces around the ship received new soft furnishings including carpets, drapery, chairs and sofas, while additional outside enhancements include new pool deck loungers and teak decking.

Westerdam currently is cruising the Mediterranean on 12-day itineraries between Barcelona, Spain, and Venice or Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy.

Yao Ming and Ye Li Officially Name the New Majestic Princess
Princess Cruises announced today that Yao Ming and his wife, Ye Li, will serve as Inaugural Cruise Ambassadors for Princess Cruises in China and officially name the new Majestic Princess during a ceremony and gala celebration.

The inaugural festivities will take place aboard Majestic Princess in Shanghai on July 9, as the culmination of weeks of celebrations, upholding maritime traditions, as well as featuring traditional Chinese, contemporary Chinese, and western-inspired cultural performances that took place between Rome and Xiamen.

"It is a great honor that Yao Ming and Ye Li have graciously accepted our invitation to officially name Majestic Princess and serve as the Inaugural Cruise Ambassadors at our celebration welcoming our newest ship to China," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "Yao Ming is globally recognized for his success in China and the United States, truly embodying the 'East meets West' spirit of our international cruise line."

Yao Ming and his wife, Ye Li, were both born in Shanghai and were both team members of China's national basketball teams. Yao Ming is an icon, one of the world's best-known athletes, a global ambassador of basketball, an eight-time NBA All-Star, and most recently, an inductee into the NBA Hall of Fame.

The couple has established The Yao Foundation in response to the devastating 8.0 earthquake in Sichuan Province, China in 2008. The Yao Foundation funded the construction of 23 schools in the region, Yao Foundation Hope Primary Schools, and is currently focused on helping provide sports education to the youth generation in the countryside regions of China with the implementation of "Yao Foundation Hope Primary School Basketball Season" projects. They help to select volunteers to support sports education and basketball training, organize basketball leagues for the rural primary schools to help more students learn the team sport and understand the importance of growing up with fitness and good health. This year will be the 10th year for "Yao Foundation Charity event." It has become the biggest, the longest and most influential sports charity event in China. In 2017, Yao Foundation Charity event tournament will begin on July 30 in Hong Kong.

"We are honored to serve as the Inaugural Cruise Ambassadors for Princess Cruises and officially name the new Majestic Princess," said Yao Ming. "I'm inspired that Princess Cruises also cares so deeply about youth development in China and appreciate their support of our foundation. We look forward to enjoying a future vacation aboard Majestic Princess, China's newest cruise ship."

Majestic Princess promises the ultimate cruise vacation for Chinese travelers, offering Princess Cruises' renowned warm, welcoming, international service – now enhanced for Chinese travelers' satisfaction. The new cruise ship also features two specialty dinner menus by Michelin star-awarded chefs at Harmony and La Mer, "Fantastic Journey," the most technologically-advanced, immersive musical and cinematic production show at sea, and the Princess Luxury Bed developed with board-of-medicine certified sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus.

Princess Cruises is also debuting "Camp Discovery" – an interactive family enrichment program developed in part by Discovery Communications, California Science Center, and educators from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University – that is designed to foster creativity and initiate a love for learning that prepares children to better navigate their education and development at early learning ages.

Majestic Princess is currently sailing on her "Silk Road Sea Route" – a 49-day journey from Rome to Shanghai, retracing the ancient Chinese maritime Silk Road trade route. During the voyage, she will have visited a total of 22 ports including Athens, Dubai, Cochin, Singapore, Port Klang, and Xiamen before her arrival at Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal. Majestic Princess will begin her first homeport season in Shanghai on July 11.

In 2018, two 14-day Grand Asia voyage sailings between Shanghai and Singapore, will be available to guests throughout the world on Majestic Princess. These sailings will visit Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand, including spending more time ashore on the late night call in Hong Kong. The first voyage departs Shanghai on February 25, 2018, with the second departing Singapore on March 11, 2018.

Princess Cruises will also call Australia home from September 2018 to March 2019. Majestic Princess will sail itineraries from Sydney and Auckland on voyages from 6 to 13 days in length, and will call in ports at destinations including New Zealand, Tasmania, Fiji and other islands in the South Pacific.

Seabourn Offering New Cruise Itineraries For Fall 2018 And Winter 2019
Seabourn will feature new worldwide itineraries for the fall 2018 and winter 2019 seasons. The new program includes 37 unique sailings to hidden harbors, marquee ports and must-see cities accessible only by smaller ships. As always, Seabourn guests can look forward to exceptional personalized service, lavish amenities and unique experiences from the newest and most modern fleet in the luxury segment. Guests will have the opportunity to sail aboard Seabourn's newest ships, Seabourn Encore, which launched in late 2016, and Seabourn Ovation, which is scheduled to launch in May 2018.

The fall 2018 and winter 2019 seasons will allow guests to see our Extraordinary World with 103 departures of seven to 66 days in length, visiting exotic destinations in South America & Antarctica, India, Arabia, Australia & New Zealand, and Southeast Asia, along with classic favorites including the Panama Canal, Canada/New England, and the Caribbean. The itineraries, fares and additional details of Seabourn's complete fall 2018/winter 2019 cruise schedule can be viewed at

"Each year we meticulously craft itineraries with carefully selected experiences to show guests the world as only Seabourn can," said Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn. "These itineraries will be truly exciting for our guests as they visit fascinating destinations around the world from the comforts of the finest ultra-luxury experience at sea."

Highlights for the Seabourn fleet include:

• Seabourn Ovation – Following the ship's 2018 inaugural summer season in Europe, the line's newest ship will depart Athens on a 20-day Holy Land and Arabia voyage headed to Dubai. An additional 18-day voyage of Arabia, India and Sri Lanka will position the ship in Singapore to begin the ship's inaugural Asia season of five 14-day voyages between Singapore and Hong Kong. These itineraries will feature the line's popular Caviar in the Surf beach parties at Ko Kood in Thailand, an overnight stay at Ho Chi Minh City and an extended day at Halong Bay in Vietnam, allowing for optional excursions to Hanoi. The season will also include a 14-day voyage from Hong Kong to Singapore visiting China, the Philippines, and Kota Kinabalu (Borneo) in Malaysia, providing options for appealing 28-day combo cruises with the Vietnam/Thailand voyages. The ship will then depart Singapore on a 22-day voyage to Dubai via Myanmar, India and Oman, followed by a 20-day voyage to Arabia and the Holy Land, arriving in Athens to begin the 2019 Europe season.

• Seabourn Encore – Following the summer season, Seabourn Encore will depart the Mediterranean bound for Australia & New Zealand via four voyages: 19 days through the Holy Land and Arabia; 18 days through Arabia and India to Singapore; a seven-day voyage between Singapore and Benoa, Bali, visiting Java and Celukan Bawang, Bali; and an 18-day sailing from Bali to Sydney via the Great Barrier Reef. The 2018-2019 season in Australia & New Zealand will consist of four 16-day voyages between Sydney and Auckland, interspersed with two alternate 16-day South Pacific Islands voyages round-trip from Auckland, visiting New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji. The start of spring will see Seabourn Encore depart Sydney for a 16-day voyage, featuring the Queensland Coast & Great Barrier Reef, plus Indonesia islands to Bali. A 10-day Gems of the Java Sea voyage will highlight Bali and Komodo, plus several ports on Java before reaching Singapore. The return to Europe will include a 16-day cruise through India and Arabia to Dubai, and an 18-day voyage from Dubai to Athens via the Holy Land.

• Seabourn Quest – During fall 2018, Seabourn Quest will sail on four 10-day Canadian Maritimes & New England voyages between Montreal and Boston, as well as a 12-day cruise round-trip from Montreal. A 14-day positioning cruise ends in Miami, from which Seabourn Quest will sail 25 days southward to visit Key West, pass through the Panama Canal, and explore the Inca Coast of Peru. Seabourn Quest will then sail on five voyages in Antarctica & Patagonia, including a 24-day Holiday voyage from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso that features the South Georgia Experience and Ventures by Seabourn optional kayaking excursions led by the ship's top-flight expedition team. In spring 2019, Seabourn Quest will depart from Buenos Aires to travel up the coast of Brazil on a 21-day voyage into the Amazon. The ship will then sail a 24-day itinerary from Manaus, down the Amazon and across the Atlantic to Lisbon for its summer season in Europe.

• Seabourn Odyssey – Following an Atlantic crossing, Seabourn Odyssey's fall 2018 season begins with a series of 18 seven-day Caribbean cruises between Bridgetown, Barbados and Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. Each of the cruises will offer both a Caviar in the Surf beach barbecue at Carambola Beach, St. Kitts or Mayreau in the Grenadines, as well as a Marina Day at Jost Van Dyke or Iles des Saintes. (All subject to conditions.) In early spring, Seabourn Odyssey will cross the Atlantic to Lisbon in 11 days, and then sail 14 days through the Canary Islands, Morocco and Spain to Barcelona to be poised for another European season.

Itineraries for Seabourn Sojourn are currently being finalized and will be announced soon. The ship will feature a number of Extended Explorations voyages in late 2018 & 2019, which are suited to the traveler looking for a longer, more in-depth experience from their journey.

Royal Caribbean Brings Underwater Adventures To Life With First-Of-Its-Kind Snapchat Experience
Royal Caribbean invites the world to experience a first-of-its-kind underwater adventure through the lens of Snapchat Spectacles. From June 21 to June 25, Royal Caribbean's Snapchat channel will immerse viewers in a one of-a-kind underwater adventure thanks to a custom-designed scuba mask dubbed "SeaSeekers." The mask was custom engineered by the cruise line for use with Snapchat Spectacles. It allows the wearer to snap while underwater and will give those above the surface a unique perspective into the intriguing underwater world of marine life. Fans can #SeekDeeper by following @RoyalCaribbean on Snapchat.

"The SeaSeekers will enable all adventure-seekers to get a front-row seat to the thrilling adventures found underwater in a way that has never been possible before," said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer and SVP of Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. "Snapchat continues to be a favorite channel for curious travellers and is the ideal platform for this first-of-its-kind undersea exploration. We are excited to find an innovative way to use the Snapchat Spectacles with our SeaSeekers mask so that we can bring the underwater experience to our guests as they visit the incredible destinations we sail to. We've even taken the added step of applying for a patent for the SeaSeekers mask so that we can bring it to our guests exclusively."

The three dives will feature incredible underwater adventures seen through the eyes of three well-known divers. In Cozumel, Mexico marine wildlife photographer and conservationist Roberto Ochoa will give viewers a rare glimpse into the annual migration of Whale Sharks. Marine Biologist Gabriela Nava and co-founder of the organization Oceanus, A.C. based in Mexico, will then take viewers to see a coral reef restoration project where she and her team have been working to restore the local reefs. In Belize, fans can follow along as free diver Ashleigh Baird visits the Great Blue Hole, an underwater sinkhole that is believed to be the largest of its kind.

Fans can follow along on Royal Caribbean's Snapchat channel or by searching on other social platforms by using #SeekDeeper.

For A Hefty Price, Crystal Gives Guests VIP Access To Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Formula 1 Race
Adrenaline rushes are inevitable for Crystal Symphony guests in Abu Dhabi this November, as Crystal unveils three exclusive ways for travelers to experience the most glamourous international event in the United Arab Emirates. During the "Indian Ocean Discovery" voyage, the ultra-luxury ship will arrive in Abu Dhabi on November 25 for an overnight stay just in time for the capital city's Formula 1 Grand Prix at the famed Yas Marina Circuit. The 55-lap, approximately 190-mile race draws drivers from around the world to compete for the pole position. Crystal guests will enjoy VIP views for each lap, heightening the thrill of the event.

The most exclusive Crystal package for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix transports guests by luxury coach from the ship to Yas Island, where the Marina is located, and positions them in the heart of the action with Formula TEAM One Paddock Club™ access, with either Team Red Bull or Team Ferrari. Participants will walk the pit lane and enjoy premier seating in the air-conditioned upper floors of the pit building, as well as fine cuisine and beverage service throughout the day, open bar and access to the roof terrace to mingle with fellow VIP guests. Fares for this option are $9,999 per person.

A second race option offers premium hospitality seating in the shaded top level in the grand stand, offering access to an air-conditioned lounge where food and non-alcoholic beverages will be served throughout the race. Fares for this option are $2,399 per person.

A third option offers guests race tickets with premium grand stand seating, affording the opportunity to take in the contest amidst the excitement of the crowd and fellow race enthusiasts. Fares for this option are $999 per person.

"Regardless of one's chosen level of exclusive access, attendance of this remarkable international event is an unforgettable opportunity for any traveller," says Crystal CEO and President Edie Rodriguez.

In addition to Abu Dhabi, the 17-day voyage begins with an overnight in Dubai and a maiden call in Doha, Qatar before cruising the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean en route to Mahé/Victoria, Seychelles; Nosy Bé and Maroantsetra (maiden call), Madagascar; and Mauritius/Port Louis, Republic of Mauritius. All-inclusive cruise only fares start at $3,995 per person.

Carnival Corporation Issues Statement on Updates to Cuba Policy
Carnival Corporation issued the following statement this week in the wake of the recently announced U.S. Government changes to its Cuba policy: Carnival Corporation is pleased that the policy changes announced by the Trump administration will allow our ships to continue to sail to Cuba. We will review the extent of the tightening of the travel rules, but our guests have already been traveling under the 12 approved forms of travel to Cuba since we undertook our historic first cruise to Cuba more than a year ago.

Our experience in Cuba this past year has been extremely positive. We look forward to the new cruises being planned for Cuba with Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line. We also have requested approval for our other brands to travel to Cuba.

Travel brings people and cultures together, so we are excited about the upcoming cruises to Cuba for our guests.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 66.32 + 4.29%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 111.90 + 1.82%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.45 + 2.51%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 53.63 + 6.37%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of the first new build for Carnival Cruise Lines and what year did she enter service?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Almost all cruise ships have a wide variety of bars and lounges where passengers can relax with a cocktail before or after dinner. What was the traditional name of the behind-the-scenes watering hole for crew members on the Queen Mary and other Cunard liners?

Answer - A famous and traditional place for Cunard crewmembers to hang out during off-duty hours, is the Pig & Whistle (after that in London) Affectionately known as the PIG.
courtesy of Marie Zuhosky


Cruise News - June 12, 2017

Symphony of the Seas Floated Out of Drydock

The newest member of Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis class of ships, Symphony of the Seas, is now one step closer to full completion as her April 2018 debut approaches. With the exterior now complete, Symphony of the Seas was floated out of her dry dock to begin the next phase of interior construction.

Symphony of the Seas will spend her inaugural summer season exploring the awe-inspiring destinations of the Mediterranean calling on ports in Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence, France; Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples, Italy. She will then arrive to Miami in early November to begin 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.

Symphony of the Seas will claim the title of the world’s largest – and most adventure-filled – cruise ship, offering 28 more staterooms than her newest sister ship Harmony of the Seas and encompassing 230,000 gross registered tons.

Touting new features and amenities for guests, Symphony also will boast all the groundbreaking innovations and thrilling experiences that have garnered worldwide recognition for Harmony of the Seas. Among the award-winning and acclaimed favorites are the distinct seven-neighborhood concept, imaginative and sophisticated dining, Bionic Bar robot bartenders powered by Makr Shakr, Broadway-caliber entertainment, the iconic waterfront AquaTheater, the Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, and Ultimate Abyss – the tallest slide at sea.

Cunard Reveals Completion of $40 Million Refurbishment of Queen Victoria
Cunard's iconic ship Queen Victoria made her much-anticipated return to Southampton yesterday, showing off an array of stunning new features following an impressive $40 million refurbishment.

First-look photography released today reveals the fruits of Cunard's labor, from large mesmerizing enhancements to the subtle details, impeccable care and diligence has been taken to ensure passengers are greeted with the ultimate luxury experience from the moment they step on board.

Exquisite interior design takes center stage in the new Britannia Club Restaurant and continues to triumph within the new 43 spacious Britannia Club staterooms. Further enhancements on board include beautifully refined and redesigned Grand and Penthouse Suites, as well as a luxurious new sun deck offering space and tranquillity and a stunning enhanced Winter Garden. Every stateroom has been refreshed, including the installation of large flat screen TVs and much requested tea and coffee making facilities.

The regal ship, which was taken out of service on May 5 to undergo the refit at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo in Italy, returned to service in style yesterday, setting off on a floral adventure to the Canary Islands, as part of a special Festival of Flowers voyage.

"The combined investment of $172 million for Queen Victoria's refit along with Queen Mary 2's remastering is a testament to Cunard's commitment to our iconic vessels and enhancing our passenger experience," said Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president, Cunard North America. "With the new designs and enhanced onboard offerings Queen Victoria is poised to sail the next generation of Cunarders offering unparalleled voyages."

Pacific Princess Emerges from Drydock
After a two-week, multi-million-dollar renovation, Pacific Princess debuted today in Ft. Lauderdale with new modern colors, patterns and textures, while still keeping the small ship essence and traditional architecture revered by Princess Cruises guests.

Guests will now experience several new enhancements with the addition of the new livery hull design featuring the cruise line's iconic brand mark; 700 Princess Luxury Beds and 336 refreshed staterooms including the new Club Class Mini-Suites; four refurbished dining venues; an updated Atrium and pool deck; and 178,000 square feet of new carpet. The Princess Luxury Beds and Club Class Mini-Suites add to the cruise line's previously announced "Come Back New Promise," a multi-year, multi-million-dollar program introducing new product innovations that offer guests enriching vacation experiences.

"We carefully considered how to incorporate modern design elements and comfort while keeping the traditional elements of small ship cruising that have always been the hallmark of Pacific Princess," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "The results are incredible and Pacific Princess now offers approachable luxury for the world-class traveler to craft an authentic cruising experience."

Upon boarding Pacific Princess, guests walk into a modernized, yet familiar, welcoming Atrium. This area, as well the overall ship style, maintains the existing classical Beaux-Arts dark, rich, architectural millwork, ornamentation, vaulted stained glass ceiling and spectacular grand staircase. In contrast, guests will experience modern styling with warm, light tonal elements and that take their cue from the sophisticated uptown luxury hotels lining Central Park in New York City.

The four dining areas now offer a range of intimate to expanded gathering spaces, including:

• Sterling Steakhouse – this traditional steakhouse offers décor reminiscent of the infamous Rush Street Steakhouses of Chicago and the golden era of the Hollywood Brown Derby. Diners are surrounded by silky drapery, comfortable upholstered arm chairs and black and white photographs of movie stars, both classic and contemporary, for guests of all ages to enjoy.
• Sabatini's Restaurant – drawing inspiration from Sabatini's authentic heritage, the beloved specialty restaurant is updated with modern Italian-designed furnishings, freshly painted walls and ceiling, new carpet, reupholstered chairs, refreshed draperies and a new lounge area in front of the restaurant.
• The Club Restaurant – the main dining room enhancements were inspired by the fashionable district and hotels of Central London with classic architectural millwork surrounding the rhythmic pattern of Palladium arched windows, softened by contemporary draperies, overlooking the ocean. The room's rich, dark woods are contrasted with a warm and inviting light palette highlighted with fresh, vibrant, jewel-tones within the modern furnishings, updated carpets, draperies and upholstered arm chairs.
• The Panorama Buffet – also receiving a complete makeover, the room invites guests in with new carpeting, fresh paint, new tilework, updated furniture, draperies and awnings. The dining room opens up to the outdoor deck, alfresco dining area with spectacular views overlooking exotic ports of call.

The heart of the ship is transformed into a cool garden-like atmosphere, inspired by the swanky Art Deco boutique hotels of South Beach. With new tiles, refinished teak woods, lounge furniture including double bed loungers and casual seating groups of outdoor living sofas, lounge chairs and pool chaises for guests to relax, unwind and soak up the sun.

All guests can delight in the ultimate sleep at sea in the Princess Luxury Bed, as Pacific Princess has 700 new beds and plush linens. Developed in collaboration with board-certified sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus and renowned HGTV designer Candice Olson, the bed combines the science of sleep with the pinnacle of design. In addition, the 10 luxury guest suites and all staterooms have been updated with new plush light-colored carpet, fully upholstered headboards, modern style draperies and decorative lamps and wall sconces with USB ports incorporated into the fixtures for guest convenience. The suites also will have new contemporary furniture including a sleeper sofa, dining room table and chairs, lounge chairs and desks.

Pacific Princess now offers Club Class Mini-Suites, the new premium stateroom category featuring VIP amenities and exclusive dining. This elevated mini-suite category features select perks including new Club Class Dining, a reserved dining area with first priority in choosing their preferred seating and expanded menu options and priority embarkation and disembarkation.

Pacific Princess departs today from Ft. Lauderdale on an 18-day Fire & Ice Explorer cruise to London. The ship will sail various European itineraries through December, before departing on a 111-day World Cruise from Los Angeles on January 20, 2018.

Senior Officers Selected For New Carnival Horizon
Carnival Cruise Line has announced the appointment of the senior officers for its newest ship, the 133,500-ton Carnival Horizon, which is currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy and set to debut in spring 2018.

Comprised of some of the most talented and experienced mariners in the cruise industry, Carnival Horizon’s senior officers will include:

• Captain Luigi De Angelis – A 22-year veteran of Carnival Cruise Line, De Angelis joined the company as a deck cadet aboard the Carnival Imagination in 1995 and was named captain in 2010. During his Carnival career, De Angelis has been part of the start-up teams of five ships and most recently served as master of the line’s newest ship, Carnival Vista, during its inaugural season in Miami.

• Chief Engineer Rosario Capilli – Capilli joined Carnival in 1990 following a career in the tanker and cargo industries in his native Italy. He was named chief engineer in 2002 and has served in this capacity on a number of Carnival ships, including Carnival Vista during its inaugural season. During his 27-year Carnival career, Capilli has served on the start-up teams for three Carnival ships.

• Hotel Director Pierre B. Camilleri – Now in his 13th year with Carnival, Camilleri joined the company as hotel director after managing hotel and resort properties in his native Malta, as well as North Africa, Italy and China. He has served as hotel director on several Carnival ships and traveled to Italy to be a part of the inaugural teams for the line’s two most recent newbuilds – Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista.

These talented professionals will lead a team of nearly 1,400 dedicated employees who will travel to Marghera, Italy, to prepare the ship for its April 2, 2018 maiden voyage – a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona.

Carnival Horizon will also operate two seven-day Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona departing April 15 and 22, 2018, and a 10-day Mediterranean cruise departing April 29, 2018, before repositioning to the U.S. with a 14-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018.

Carnival Horizon will then operate a summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple before shifting to Miami to launch year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018. Carnival Horizon will also offer a special two-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

As the line’s newest ship, Carnival Horizon will offer a wide range of onboard innovations, including a groundbreaking bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide, an IMAX Theatre, and a delicious array of dining choices, including the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, Bonsai Sushi, the Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant and Ji Ji Asian Kitchen. Carnival Horizon will also be the first ship to feature a colorful Dr. Seuss-themed WaterWorks park – part of an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

Azamara Journey And Azamara Quest Unite To Celebrate Best Friends Day
In celebration of National Best Friends Day on June 8, sister ships Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest made a rare appearance together in Barcelona, meeting for the first time since September 2013 in Venice. In honor of this unique event, a number of perfect pairing activities fit for the best of friends took place for guests onboard, as well as social contests for those tuning in from afar.

Favored by travelers looking for rich cultural immersions and new experiences, Azamara is known for its signature Destination Immersion programming, which provides unique voyages and curated shore excursions. The up-market cruise line rarely repeats an itinerary, which made this meeting of its two ships distinctive as Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey are seldom found in the same region of the world, let alone the same port.

"Our Destination Immersion promise means that our boutique hotels at sea often are oceans apart as they chart our exceptional, unique itineraries," said Larry Pimentel, President & CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. "The reuniting of Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest after almost 4 years is a significant reminder that, while we deliver unmatched experiences on land across the globe, we always collectively come together to up the ante with new and exciting offerings for our guests."

Best Friends Day is being celebrated onboard with a number of unique guest experiences and offers. A Chef's Table raffle will take place, awarding at random a lucky stateroom winner on each ship a dinner for two. In the spirit of honoring pairs, the corresponding stateroom on the sister ship will also be declared a winner.

As the ships sailed together out of the Barcelona port, the momentous occasion was marked with a sail-away party on the pool decks of both the Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest. Azamara Journey's Cruise Director Eric DeGray led a fleet wide toast as guests onboard both ships simultaneously cheered in celebration, followed by a night of dancing under the stars.

Azamara fans joining the celebration from afar can partake in the fun by visiting their photo gallery, or following @AzamaraVoyages, @AzamaraJourney, @AzamaraQuest and #SistersMeet on Twitter. Now through June 14, travelers looking to plan their next AzAmazing adventure with their best travel companion can head to AzamaraClubCruises.com/sistersmeet and vote for how they would spend a day in Barcelona, receiving a promotion code offering $300-$500 onboard credit* to apply towards their next voyage.

Azamara Journey kicked off its 7-Night Tapas and Wine voyage with the sister ship sailing celebration and will continue on a journey through Spain and Portugal, while Azamara Quest is nearing the end of an 11-Night Mediterranean sailing which will soon disembark in France.

Carnival Cruise Line Introduces Carnival EasyPay
In a cruise industry first, Carnival Cruise Line has launched a convenient new pay-over-time program that allows guests to pay for their cruise in three monthly installments.

“Carnival EasyPay is designed as a truly hassle-free vacation payment option as it allows guests' cruise payments to be automatically deducted from the credit card on file and applied to their current balance interest-free over a three-month period.

Guests simply make their initial cruise deposit and then the balance of their cruise is charged in three equal payments which are taken out automatically on the same designated day for three consecutive months. Guests can either register for the program at carnival.com or via the line's call centers. Travel agents can also sign up for Carnival EasyPay to process payments on behalf of their clients.

"A Carnival cruise is already the most affordable and value-packed vacation there is and with Carnival EasyPay we're making budgeting and paying for a cruise even easier and more convenient," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "Rather than having to remember to pay for their cruise, Carnival EasyPay provides guests with peace of mind knowing that their payment is being processed automatically. Carnival EasyPay certainly lives up to its name!"

Guests must make a required deposit on their cruise fare to be eligible for Carnival EasyPay. Additionally, the deposit due date must be at least 90 days before the final payment date. The first installment is charged to guests' credit card 30 days from the date of the deposit with two additional monthly installments thereafter. While Carnival EasyPay is available at no cost, guests are responsible for any interest charges by their credit card provider.

Guests are prompted to select Carnival EasyPay in the "How Would You Like to Pay" section of carnival.com when ready to make payment on their booking. Guests can also sign up for or cancel Carnival EasyPay after the initial deposit is made by visiting the "Manage My Booking" tab on carnival.com.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 63.59 - 2.26%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 109.90 - 1.93%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.39 + 0.42%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 50.42 + 0.22%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Almost all cruise ships have a wide variety of bars and lounges where passengers can relax with a cocktail before or after dinner. What was the traditional name of the behind-the-scenes watering hole for crew members on the Queen Mary and other Cunard liners?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which famous former liner served as James Bond's headquarters in the film "The Man with the Golden Gun"?

Answer - The ship in question was the wreck of the Seawise University (ex Queen Elizabeth). The ship caught fire and sunk in Hong Kong Harbour (arson?) in 1972. The wreck was scrapped a few years later.
courtesy of Kevin Martin, Gibralter


Cruise News - June 5, 2017

MSC Cruises Christens The Biggest Ship To Be Built By A European Ship Owner
On Saturday, June 3, the latest wonder in the MSC Cruises fleet, MSC Meraviglia was christened in a glittering ceremony by international screen legend and godmother of all of MSC Cruises’ ships, Sophia Loren. At 171,598 GRT and with guest capacity of 5,714 (4,488 at double occupancy), MSC Meraviglia is the biggest ship to be built by a European ship owner, MSC Cruises, and also the biggest ship to come into service in 2017.

MSC Cruises, the Swiss-based world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and brand market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa, hosted the glamorous, high-profile event in Le Havre, with entertainment from top international performers and an exclusive gala dinner in the company of special guests, authorities, key partners from the travel industry, global media and top management from MSC Cruises and its parent company MSC Group. Gianluigi Aponte, MSC Group’s founder and executive chairman as well as the ship owner, attended together with the Aponte and Aponte-Vago families.

“We have an ambitious vision for the future and MSC Meraviglia marks the start of the second phase of growth for our Company,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman. “For this reason, this is an extremely proud moment for all of us at MSC Cruises as we see the first of our next-generation ships being named.”

The new ships that we are building — between 2017 and 2020 alone, we will receive six new ships — are purpose-built, featuring innovation in both product and design, as well as the very latest-cutting edge marine and consumer-facing technology to create unforgettable holiday experiences at sea for guests of all ages. MSC Meraviglia is the first to make this vision come to life, as it sets a new standard for cruise ships as a destination in itself.”

MSC Meraviglia is the Company’s new flagship and the 13th addition to the MSC Cruises fleet as well as the first new MSC Cruises ship due to come into service under the Company’s industry-unprecedented investment plan.

Both the ship herself and Saturday's event have been inspired by the wonders of the world, as Meraviglia literally means wonder. The christening ceremony itself was hosted by one of Europe’s most loved comedians, Gad Elmaleh. The audience was also entertained by internationally renowned artist Patrick Bruel who performed a selection of his most loved songs. UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Kids United also performed representing a diverse world, promoting peace and tolerance 1.

The crowning moment of the evening was the parade of the ship’s officers, when Sophia Loren cut the ribbon and named MSC Meraviglia to a time-honored crescendo of champagne and fireworks. Mrs. Loren has held a close relationship with MSC Cruises for over a decade, when she first became godmother of MSC Lirica, in 2003. As the MSC Cruises fleet continued to grow, she blessed each and every new ship, reflecting MSC Cruises' belief not only in loyalty, but also in Loren's unique beauty, talent and elegant style — the same elements that distinguish every aspect on board an MSC Cruises ship.

In order to conclude on a note of haute cuisine Hélène Darroze, the chef with the 2 Michelin stars created an exceptional menu for the VIP gala dinner as well as an exclusive dish for all guests. The menu takes inspiration from Chef Darroze’s passion for combining the flavors of France with those of the UK to create a simple yet elegant gourmet experience for the guests. MSC Cruises and Chef Darroze hope to extend the collaboration beyond the evening of the christening and work is underway to establish a partnership.

MSC Meraviglia is able to call in most of the world’s international cruise ports and is set to become one of the hottest destinations at sea. Some of the unique features that set MSC Cruises’ newest flagship apart include: • Widest range of dining options and bars on any MSC Cruises ship to-date with 12 dining venues and 20 bars
• As a family-owned company, kids’ activities and services are at the very core of the guest offering and the dedicated family deck area includes a brand new entertainment offering and cutting-edge facilities for the whole family.
• MSC for Me, the new digital experience designed for guests to get the most out of their vacation, connecting them to the experiences that matter to them
• The MSC Yacht Club with new features and luxurious accommodations spanning three decks, private facilities and butler service round-the-clock
• The longest LED Sky Screen at Sea at 262 feet long encompassing a stunning 315 foot long Mediterranean-style promenade, designed to become the social hub of the ship
• Comfortable and innovative accommodations to meet every need demonstrating the way that MSC Cruises puts the guest at the heart of its designs and ship building and with 10 different types of staterooms to choose from, there really is something for everyone.

MSC Meraviglia commenced her maiden voyage from Le Havre to Genoa on June 4 and will begin her summer itinerary from Genoa from June 11. MSC Meraviglia will offer multiple embarkation ports in the Western Mediterranean including the popular ports of Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona as well as visit other much sought after Mediterranean destinations including Naples, Messina in Sicily and Valetta in Malta.

Carnival Recognized by U.S. Coast Guard for Aiding Mariners in Distress
Carnival Cruise Line was presented with an Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) Award from the U.S. Coast Guard recognizing the cruise line’s role in aiding mariners in distress. The award was presented earlier this week at a reception held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The AMVER System, sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard, is a computer-based voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea. The AMVER Awards Program was inaugurated in 1971 to recognize those vessels which regularly participate in the AMVER System and assist others in distress at sea.

The duty to render assistance at sea to those in need is a universal obligation undertaken by the entire maritime community. Carnival and other cruise operators frequently render assistance at sea at their own cost, on their own initiative, or at the direct request of the United States Coast Guard and other authorities, including through the AMVER program.

Royal Caribbean Sets Course For Historic Total Solar Eclipse
The "Great American Eclipse," 99 years in the making, is already booking up hotels across the country, and Royal Caribbean International is providing the perfect solution for thrill seekers to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event. The world's most adventurous cruise line will host an out-of-this-world, 7-night Caribbean sailing on Oasis of the Seas, which will cruise to the optimal spot at sea for guests to witness the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017. Taking place on one of the world's largest and most adventure-packed ships, the Total Eclipse Cruise will feature a bucket-list-worthy viewing party with a live concert performed by a major headliner – to be revealed at a later date – to celebrate the celestial phenomenon that is poised to become the most photographed, most shared and most tweeted event in human history.

"We're set to take vacationers on an unprecedented experience that is nearly a century in the making," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "A total solar eclipse hasn't crossed the entire U.S. since 1918, and with many of our ships sailing to the Caribbean along the projected path, the stars aligned. Oasis of the Seas will have the vantage point of the century and an unforgettable celebration out at sea that adventurers won't want to miss."

The optimal viewing area along the eclipse's path stretches across the country from Oregon to South Carolina before passing over the Atlantic Ocean. On this trajectory, the sun will be entirely covered by the moon, and a moment this unique deserves an equally impressive experience. During this brag-worthy adventure to idyllic islands in the Caribbean, guests on Oasis of the Seas will be treated to a full slate of eclipse-themed activities, including dance parties, trivia, enrichment lectures, interactive science fun for kids, and tasty cocktails and dishes with names like the Cosmic Cosmo, Planetary Punch and Moon Pie, ensuring the most memorable and adventurous way to commemorate the Great American Eclipse.

In addition to celebrating this historic event on board one of the largest cruise ships in the world, thrill seekers also will enjoy Oasis of the Seas' bold and unexpected lineup of experiences and amenities. From two FlowRider surf simulators and a zip line nine decks high – speeding riders 82 feet across an open-air atrium, to unparalleled entertainment, including Broadway's hit musical CATS and high-diving, acrobatic performances in the iconic AquaTheater; and world-class dining at 150 Central Park by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, there is an adventure for travelers of all ages aboard Oasis.

The 7-night Total Eclipse Cruise on board Oasis of the Seas will set sail on Aug. 20, 2017 from Orlando (Port Canaveral), Florida and visit Eastern Caribbean destinations: Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; and Nassau, Bahamas. Adventurers can learn more and book now to witness this historic event at sea by visiting RoyalCaribbean.com/TotalEclipse, calling (800) ROYAL- CARIBBEAN or contacting their travel agent.

Seven other Royal Caribbean ships will be sailing to the Caribbean during the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, on itineraries ranging from 3 to 9 nights, offering guests extraordinary partial views of the phenomenon to make for a memorable experience. The seven ships are Allure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Empress of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas.

Seabourn Returns To America's Last Frontier
Seabourn will return to Alaska this summer for the first time in 15 years, officially kicking off today with an 11-day "Ultimate Alaskan" voyage departing from Vancouver. The world's finest ultra-luxury cruise line has curated an exceptional series of 11-, 12- and 14-day cruises on Seabourn Sojourn sailing out of Anchorage (Seward), Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia. The unique and captivating itineraries will combine the 49th state's most popular ports, rarely visited gems of the Inland Passage, and Ventures by Seabourn optional guided kayak and Zodiac tours led by the line's world-class and highly traveled expedition team.

With its small ships and award-winning onboard luxury rivaling any resort, Seabourn is the perfect way to explore America's Last Frontier. The intimate size and maneuverability of Seabourn Sojourn - which accommodates 458 guests, all in spacious suites - assures a privileged waterfront view that is virtually unmatched and where larger cruise ships cannot access.

"Like our guests, we've been counting down to this season. We're going to offer an Alaska experience with no compromises - an ultra-luxury hospitality environment combined with adventurous off-ship experiences," said Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn. "Our return to Alaska offers a unique opportunity for Seabourn to do what it does best: share the highlights of an extraordinary destination, from postcard-perfect mountains and glaciers, to picturesque frontier towns, to onshore experiences and guided tours today's luxury traveler seeks."

Seabourn's Alaska voyages include calls to rarely visited locations such as Alert Bay and Klemtu, a town of fewer than 500 people belonging to the Kitasoo Native Band and where guests will enjoy an exclusive cultural experience. Access towering forests along the Inland Passage and the sights and sounds of thunderous glaciers and the graceful breaching of humpback whales in the Kenai Fjords. Guests can explore cities and towns including the state capital of Juneau, colorful Ketchikan, and historical Sitka, whose Tlingit roots go back 10,000 years. Seabourn Sojourn will also offer four sailings to remote Glacier Bay National Park as part of its 11-day cruises. With no roads leading into the park, air and water are the only ways to explore Glacier Bay, one of the world's largest international protected areas and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In certain areas such as Misty Fjords and the hauntingly beautiful Tracy Arm, guests will be able to explore wildlife-rich waterways, forested mountain vistas and lacy waterfalls up close via Ventures by Seabourn, an innovative optional program of Zodiac and kayak excursions led by Seabourn Sojourn's expedition team of naturalists, science, wildlife and historical experts. The same expedition team will be on hand on deck, pointing out, interpreting and enhancing desirable locations.

In addition, each of the new 11-, 12- and 14-day cruises will include complimentary Seabourn all-weather jackets; inspiring Seabourn Conversations with special onboard guest speakers; opportunities for frequent wildlife sightings from the ship and shore; and a "Caviar on the Ice" deck party and other special deck events.

Seabourn Sojourn's season in Alaska launches with the 11-day Ultimate Alaskan Sojourn, departing from Vancouver, B.C., on Jun. 1, 2017.

Financial News
On April 7, 2017, Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0.40 (U.S.) per share. The dividend is payable on June 16, 2017, to shareholders of record on May 26, 2017.

Holders of Carnival Corporation common stock or Carnival plc ADSs will receive a dividend payable in U.S. dollars. The dividend for Carnival plc ordinary shares will be payable in sterling unless shareholders elected to receive the dividend in U.S. dollars by May 26, 2017.

Dividends payable in sterling will be converted from U.S. dollars at the exchange rate quoted by the Bank of England in London at 12 noon on June 1, 2017 (US$1 = 77.80890 pence). Accordingly, the dividend payable in sterling on June 16, 2017, will be 31.12356 pence per share.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 65.06 + 2.68%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 112.06 + 0.88%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.38 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 50.31 - 1.04%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which famous former liner served as James Bond's headquarters in the film "The Man with the Golden Gun"?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Name the former Holland America liner that along with QE2 ended up being one of last two passenger ships to cross the Atlantic on a regular basis. What was her name when she was retired in 1988 and whom did she sail for?

Answer - The former Atlantic liner that sailed with QE2 was the Stefan Batory of Polish Ocean Lines. She was formerly Holland America's Maasdam.
courtesy of Michael Ohalloran


Cruise News - May 29, 2017

Norwegian Bliss' Keel Laying Ceremony Held At Meyer Werft in Germany
Norwegian Cruise Line and MEYER WERFT today celebrated the keel laying of Norwegian Bliss at the yard’s state of the art facility in Papenburg, Germany. During the ceremony, one of the keel blocks of the 167,800 gross ton vessel was lifted into the covered building hall, signifying a major milestone in the ship’s construction. Norwegian Bliss is due for delivery in April 2018 and will be the first cruise ship custom built with features and amenities for the ultimate Alaska cruise experience.

Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and chief executive officer, was present in the hall and laid the traditional “lucky coin”, etched with the outline of the ship’s signature hull designed by wildlife artist Wyland, before the block was lowered into place.

“We are overjoyed to celebrate the keel laying of Norwegian Bliss, our sixteenth ship and sure to be our most innovative ship to date,” Stuart said. “We have seen overwhelming anticipation and excitement from our guests and travel partners for Norwegian Bliss, from her awe-inspiring custom-designed spaces like her observation lounges to her elegant suites in The Haven by Norwegian®, and we are all thrilled to see this magnificent ship begin to come to life with the craftsmanship, precision and cutting edge technology that MEYER WERFT consistently delivers.”

The third ship in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Bliss will accommodate 4,000 guests and will be the 12th ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet to be built by MEYER WERFT.

“We are very happy to celebrate the start of the block assembly for another newbuild with Norwegian Cruise Line. This ship will be another milestone in our collaboration to create the most efficient and innovative cruise ships,” said Tim Meyer, Managing Director of MEYER WERFT.

During her inaugural summer 2018 season, Norwegian Bliss will sail weekly seven-day Alaska cruises each Saturday from the recently expanded Pier 66 Cruise Terminal in Seattle, offering guests the premier way to see America’s last frontier, while also providing all of the innovative features, entertainment, signature dining and onboard experiences that Norwegian Cruise Line is known for around the globe. The ship’s itinerary will feature calls in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, British Columbia, along with scenic glacier cruising. Norwegian Bliss will sail her inaugural Winter season beginning in November 2018, sailing seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises each Saturday from PortMiami, featuring calls in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

Norwegian Bliss’ curated design will offer guests the freedom and flexibility to “Imagine Bliss” and create their ideal experience at sea, with a wide variety of accommodations including luxurious suites in The Haven by Norwegian®, Studio staterooms for solo travelers with virtual ocean views, and new connecting staterooms ideal for large groups and families traveling together. Norwegian Bliss will also feature two observation lounges, including one exclusive to guests of The Haven®, perfect for whale watching in Alaska or taking in sunsets in the Caribbean.

Norwegian Cruise Line will take its award-winning entertainment programming to the next level aboard Norwegian Bliss, bringing the best of Broadway to sea, with the 2006 Tony Award® winner for “Best Musical,” Jersey Boys, and a completely new and original show created by Tony Award®-winning director and choreographer Warren Carlyle, headlining on the ship’s main stage, the Bliss Theater. Norwegian Bliss will also feature a new theatrical cocktail hour experience, Happy Hour Prohibition-The Musical. Alibi, the ship’s reimagined comedy club and nightlife venue will feature two comedy performances six nights a week. Rock and roll will take center stage at The Cavern Club, an outpost of the legendary Liverpool club where the Beatles’ performed frequently in the 1960s, with nightly live performances and a Beatles cover band singing hits like “Penny Lane,” “Yellow Submarine,” and more.

Continuing its tradition of featuring original artwork on its ships’ hulls, Norwegian Cruise Line has commissioned Wyland, one of the world’s premier marine life artists, to design the hull art for Norwegian Bliss; the artwork will feature images of humpback whales, found in every ocean around the world. The ship’s hull will serve as a large canvas to showcase the importance of ocean conservation and preservation.

Carnival Horizon to Feature New Aft-View Extended Balcony Family Harbor Staterooms, Additional Havana Cabins
Carnival Horizon will introduce a new stateroom category for the line – aft-view extended balcony cabins located within the exclusive Family Harbor area. Additionally, the 133,500-ton vessel will offer an additional 18 tropics-inspired staterooms within the popular Havana section.

Like the other 86 staterooms within Family Harbor, the new aft-view extended balcony cabins will feature a colorful nautical theme and will be located adjacent to the Family Harbor Lounge, designed as the ultimate family hangout with large screen TVs and complimentary breakfast and snacks.

Located aft on Deck 6, 8 and 9, the new Havana staterooms will feature vibrant interiors reminiscent of the Cuban capital and will offer exclusive access to the Havana area which includes its own Cuban-themed bar and pool.

The new accommodations are reflected in Carnival Horizon’s deck plans which can be viewed at https://www.carnival.com/cruise-ships/carnival-horizon.aspx.

Carnival Horizon is scheduled to make its maiden voyage April 2, 2018, with a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona – the first of four round-trip departures from this port. The ship will reposition to the U.S. with a 14-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018.

Following a summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple, Carnival Horizon will shift to Miami and kick off a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018. Carnival Horizon will also offer a special two-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

Well-Kept Secret: Take a Cruise to Enjoy World's Best Beaches
Let's face it. Everyone deserves a day at the beach, preferably in a tropical place where you can dip your toes in soft sand and clear waters. And now here's a well-kept secret:

With itineraries in places such as the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico, Bermuda, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, South America and the South Pacific, cruise ships make it easy to get to some of the best beaches in the world.

Cruise ships sail to some of the world’s best beaches in the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Mexico, Hawaii, Mediterranean, South America and South Pacific – including this Caribbean beach in Antigua. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises Cruise ship captains and other officers, when they get some time off, are likely to head to the sand and surf. They have their favorite beaches.

Steve Howarth, captain of Oriana from British line P&O Cruises, smiles with fond family memories when he thinks of Cane Garden Bay Beach in Tortola. "There is soft white sand, warm seas, palm trees for shade, and it's where my son built his first-ever sand castle when he was a year old," Howarth says. The beach is about five miles from the port in Road Town.

On the other side of the world, Bas van Dreumel, captain of Holland America Line's Maasdam, has a soft spot for Cottesloe Beach in the port city of Fremantle, near his hometown of Perth, Australia. "Cottesloe is one of the nicest white beaches for our crew and guests for some R & R," van Dreumel says. "Plus you can purchase fish & chips and enjoy the uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean."

For Pierre Camilleri, hotel director on Carnival Cruise Line's newest ship, Carnival Vista, a goal is finding a great place to swim. Trunk Bay on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, is his favorite swimming spot in the world.

"The gorgeous clear waters, soft white sand that feels like powder and swaying palm trees along the shore create a striking, peaceful natural spot," Camilleri says. "This bay revives my body and soul with its tranquility and beauty." Trunk Bay is easily accessible on a shore excursion from the popular Caribbean port of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.

Nearby, when he gets a few free hours you'll find Renato Bendinelli, captain of another Carnival Cruise Line ship, the Carnival Fascination, making a beeline to famous Orient Bay Beach from the Caribbean port of Philipsburg on St. Maarten.

"It's a world-famous, sought-after spot where beach chairs are plentiful, the ocean is bright blue and the sand is soft and powdery. Plus, you can head downtown for French food," Bendinelli says. He also enjoys Maho Beach close to the island's airport, which brings the thrill of watching jumbo planes fly only a few hundred feet overhead.

"Some of the most beautiful beaches I have visited are on the Isle de Pines in New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific," says Kevin Boag, hotel director on P&O Cruises Australia's Pacific Eden. "It's a place I'm sure our guests will remember for a long time."

From the tender pier you can head left for a gentle stroll to the stunning white sand beach of Kuto Bay or right to the beach at Kanumera Bay, a family friendly patch with amazing areas to snorkel and pine trees for shade, Boag advises.

Rio de Janeiro's famous Ipanema beach gets high marks on the people-watching spectrum from officers on South America cruises on brands such as Italian line Costa Cruises, ultra-luxury line Seabourn, German line AIDA Cruises and the ocean liners of Cunard. If you can distract yourself from the buff bodies and skimpy bikinis on display on the two-mile stretch of golden sand, there are impressive views of the towering Two Brothers peaks.

On Australia and New Zealand itineraries, John Scott, captain of Holland America Line's Eurodam, recommends a beach break in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty.

From the port of Tauranga on North Island, Maunganui Beach is about a 20-minute walk from the dock and has sun, sand and surf – plus the bonus of great ice cream.

"At the northern end is the stunning Mount Maunganui and behind the beach don't miss a stop at Rush Munro, New Zealand's oldest ice cream maker," Scott says.

Champagne Bay in the remote island nation of Vanuatu has long been voted the best beach in the South Pacific and is a favorite of Michael Mihajlov, destination director for Carnival Australia. "This perfectly undisturbed white sand beach lies within an undeveloped, perfectly natural bay," Mihajlov says. "It's beach nirvana."

Darren Bowland, captain of Holland America Line's ms Koningsdam, says it's no surprise that guests give high marks to the line's private island, Half Moon Cay. "It's fantastic, with a lovely white-sand beach, clear turquoise waters and no outside interruptions. I always hear from guests that this is the perfect, quintessential Caribbean island experience. You know what? It really is."

On Mexican Rivera cruises, isolated Lover's Beach near Cabo San Lucas and the tiny beach haven of Yelapa Beach near Puerto Vallarta are favorites of the Princess Cruises destination team. Recommended on Western Caribbean itineraries is an excursion from Cozumel to Tulum. Plan some time to relax in the white sands and dip in the emerald sea of Tulum beach, below the unique sight of the cliff-top ruins of an ancient Mayan city.

"There are few places in the world that compare to Myrtos Beach on the little island of Kefalonia in the Ionian sea of Greece," says Paolo Viscafè, captain of the Costa Pacifica.

"When I saw this island for the first time I was fascinated by the view of the unspoiled and beautiful beach from the mountain above. The silence was as timeless as the ancient history of this place," Viscafè says. Captain's tip: For an unforgettable experience head to the terrace of a sea-view taverna to sample local products such as cheese and olives with a glass of Robola wine.

For those who like an active beach vacation you can't do better than Hawaii's Waikiki Beach, says Wesley Dunlop, captain of the Aurora from P&O Cruises.

"I was lucky enough to visit on the Aurora's recent World Cruise and the thing that I loved about it was the plethora of activities available there, everything from surfing, canoe paddling, snorkeling, scuba, jet skis, parasailing, kite surfing," Dunlop says. "You name it, it's available! Combine this with miles of golden sand, clear blue waters and some fantastic restaurants and in my mind that is hard to beat."

Captain Marco Carsjens, master of Holland America Line's Rotterdam, daydreams about the beautiful pink sands of Bermuda, including the famous, crescent-shaped Horseshoe Bay in Southampton Parish.

"You can catch amazing views from cliff-top trails above, and if you go exploring, there are small and secluded coves such as Port Royal Cove with its shallow water and interesting rock formations," Carsjens says, adding wistfully, "I wish I had more time at the beach."

Princess Debuts 2018-2019 Exotics Sailings
Princess Cruises has debuted its 2018-2019 Exotics program which will take guests to culturally rich and iconic cruise destinations around the globe. With more than 50 departures, ranging in length from three to 111 days, these worldwide cruise itineraries go on sale today.

The diverse deployment includes six ships sailing on 27 unique itineraries throughout five continents, visiting 93 destinations and 47 countries. Guests can book cruises to South America, Southeast Asia and China. In addition, cruisers will experience less-traveled ports aboard the cruise line's small ship that will circumvent the globe on a 111-day World Cruise sailings roundtrip from Los Angeles or Ft. Lauderdale.

"Our Exotics program offers our guests the chance to travel to intriguing destinations all over the world, allowing our guests to experience different cultures in places they've dreamed of visiting," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "We're proud that these award-winning itineraries make us a destination leader in the cruise industry."

Exotics deployment highlight include:

• OCEAN Medallion-enabled Royal Princess sails her maiden voyage around Cape Horn on a 49-day South America Grand Adventure – the cruise line's largest ship ever to visit South America. Guests will experience the highly anticipated, wearable device powered by a first-of-its-kind interactive technology platform within the One Cruise Experience Access Network™. (O·C·E·A·N™), making possible a new level of personalization that delivers an enhanced guest experience not previously available in the global vacation industry.
• Coral Princess sails a new 60-day Circle North Pacific voyage roundtrip Los Angeles, calling to 22 destinations in 8 countries, including Asia, Alaska and Hawaii.
• Pacific Princess sails a new route on the 111-day World Cruise circumnavigating the Africa's Cape of Good Hope.
• Two new 14- and 15-day Grand Asia voyages on Sapphire Princess sailing out of Shanghai and Singapore, complement the previously announced 14-day Majestic Grand Asia voyages on Princess Cruises' newest ship, Majestic Princess.
• MORE ASHORE evening stays and overnights will be offered on select itineraries in 18 ports across 5 continents.

Guests will enjoy bucket-list destination to more than 20 UNESCO World Cruise Heritage Sites, including Glacier Bay National Park, Singapore Botanical Gardens, Komodo National Park, Great Barrier Reef, Robben Island in Cape Town and more.

Princess' 2018-2019 Exotics cruise program includes:

• Asia: Coral Princess, Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess
• Guests can choose from three ships, sailing 18 itineraries to 34 destinations, from four homeports with 31 departures, ranging from three to 60 days.

Coral Princess debuts an epic 60-day Circle North Pacific voyage (roundtrip Los Angeles) that includes Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii, as well as the best of Alaska, including Glacier Bay Scenic Cruising, Juneau, Icy Strait Point and our first call to Kodiak in nearly a decade. Nine ports feature MORE ASHORE evening stays in Juneau, Tokyo (Yokohama), Osaka, Seoul (Incheon), Beijing (Tianjin), Shanghai, Taipei (Keelung), Hong Kong and Honolulu. This voyage will also be offered as the following voyages: 28-day Circle North Pacific: Los Angeles to Shanghai 32-day Circle North Pacific: Shanghai to Los Angeles

Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess both return to homeport in Singapore together for a season of cruises ranging from three to 21 days, with stops in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

For the Christmas and New Year's Eve holidays, Diamond Princess sails a 10-day Southeast Asia and 11-day Malaysian Peninsula & Indonesia voyage, which can be combined for a 21-day vacation.

Additionally, Sapphire Princess sails a 15-day Grand Asia voyage, featuring an overnight in Hong Kong. For the 2019 Lunar New Year, Sapphire Princess will be sailing a seven-day Vietnam & Thailand voyage (roundtrip Singapore).

South America: Royal Princess and Emerald Princess
In South America, two ships sailing seven itineraries to 25 destinations from 4 homeports, with 15 departures ranging from 14 to 49 days are offered.

OCEAN Medallion-enabled Royal Princess sails her maiden voyage to South America on a 49-day South America Grand Adventure, sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to Los Angeles. In addition, Emerald Princess returns to South America, navigating around Cape Horn on five departures between Santiago (Valparaiso) and Buenos Aires.

Royal Princess and Emerald Princess both feature Peru, Chile and an overland to Machu Picchu on the 16-day Andes & South America cruises between Los Angeles and Santiago (Valparaiso), which can be combined with a 14-day Cape Horn cruise for a 30-day Andes & Cape Horn Grand Adventure.

Both ships also sail 19-day Brazilian Adventure cruises between Fort Lauderdale and Buenos Aires, which can be combined with the 14-day Cape Horn cruises for a 33-day Cape Horn & Brazil Grand Adventure.

World Cruise: Pacific Princess
Pacific Princess offers a 111-day World Cruise voyage roundtrip from Los Angeles or Ft. Lauderdale, with 41 destinations, in 27 countries on 5 continents, featuring a circumnavigation around the Cape of Good Hope with overnights in Cape Town and Singapore.

The cruise includes three maiden ports of call to Stewart Island (New Zealand), the remote island of St. Helena (U.K. territory) and Guadeloupe (Pointe-à-Pitre).

For a shorter world voyage, Pacific Princess offers the opportunity to sail a 96-day World Cruise embarking in Los Angeles and disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale. Princess Cruises also offers the opportunity to join the World Cruise for a portion of the journey including a 72-day South Pacific & Indian Ocean, 43-day Australia & Africa, 39-day Africa, South America & Panama Canal, 29-day Hawaii & South Pacific, 24-day Africa & South America and a choice of two 15-day Panama Canal Connoisseur voyages sailing between Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale.

Cruisetours
To further enhance the cruise vacation, Princess Cruises is pleased to offer two cruisetours for South America on Emerald Princess and Royal Princess.

During the Iguazú Falls Adventure cruisetour, guests visit Rio de Janeiro with a full-day sightseeing tour taking them to Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer statue. The tour continues into the jungle at the border of Brazil and Argentina to incredible Iguazú Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the Machu Picchu Explorer cruisetour, guests ascend into the Andes to magical Machu Picchu, another UNESCO World Heritage Site and visit the historic city of Cusco and the Sacred Valley with sightseeing to Sacsayhuaman, Ollantaytambo and an authentic Pisac Market.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 63.36 + 2.11%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 111.08 + 3.61%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.38 + 0.42%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 50.84 + 0.65%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the former Holland America liner that along with QE2 ended up being one of last two passenger ships to cross the Atlantic on a regular basis. What was her name when she was retired in 1988 and whom did she sail for?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Holland America's Volendam and Veendam of 1971 both started life sailing under different names for a different cruise line. What were their original names and what line did they sail for?

Answer - The Veendam was formerly called the Argentina, and was purchased from Moore McCormack Line. The Volendam was formerly called the Brasil, and was also purchased from Moore McCormick Line. Our very first cruise was on the Veendam in 1974. We got the cheapest cabin on the ship along with several friends and had the time of our life - been cruising ever since.
courtesy of Frank Cicio


Cruise News - May 22, 2017

Majestic Princess Begins Epic Journey to China
Princess Cruises and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (Friendship Association) officially began Majestic Princess' journey from Rome to China which will feature a cultural exchange program themed "Telling the Chinese Story along the Silk Road Sea Route." During the 37-day voyage, performance groups including the Ansai Youth Waist Drum team and the Luochuan Youth Yangge Dance team, the China National Orchestra and the China National Opera & Dance Drama Theater will entertain and educate more than 6,500 guests from more than 40 countries.

Princess Cruises and the Friendship Association held a press briefing and luncheon aboard prior to the ship's departure. Madam Li Xiaolin, President of the Friendship Association, David Dingle, Chairman of Carnival UK, Roger Chen, Chairman of Carnival Asia and Malcolm Morini, of Rome's Civitavecchia cruise port, among other officials, attended the event. The Ansai Youth Waist Drum team and the Luochuan Youth Yangge Dance team presented an authentic Shannbei style performance during the sail-away ceremony to celebrate the start of Silk Road Sea Route voyage.

"The Friendship Association aims to enhance international cooperation and promote common development between China and other countries," said Madame Li. "We continually develop innovative ways to communicate the China story by utilizing more active and engaging programs to present China's diverse culture along the Sea Silk Road. Our efforts support the economic development of the 'Belt and Road' initiatives and boost the cultural communication between countries along the route."

"Our partnership with the Friendship Association and celebrating Chinese culture reinforces our brand promise to provide authentic international experiences to our guests and reflects our commitment to the China market," said Anthony Kaufman, executive vice president of international operations, Princess Cruises. "The Chinese market is important to us and we are honored that Majestic Princess, our newest cruise ship which has been tailored for the Chinese market, will become a key part of this cross-cultural people to people program between the East and West."

Majestic Princess will visit some important Silk Road ports in countries including Greece, United Arab Emirates, India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia before arriving in its first Chinese port of Xiamen. Majestic Princess will arrive in Xiamen on June 26 and begin her first home-port season in Shanghai on July 11.

In 2018, two 14-day Grand Asia voyages sailing between Shanghai and Singapore on the fleet's newest ship will be available to guests throughout the world on Majestic Princess. These sailings will visit Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand, including spending more time ashore on the late night call in Hong Kong. The first voyage departs Shanghai on February 25, 2018, with the second departing Singapore on March 11, 2018.

HAL to Sail to Cuba Aboard ms Veendam Beginning in December 2017
Holland America Line has received approval to begin sailing to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, starting with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday cruise aboard ms Veendam. Holland America Line becomes Carnival Corporation's third cruise line to be approved to sail to Cuba following the company's historic inaugural sailings to the island last year. Demand is expected to be high when Cuba cruises open for booking on May 26, 2017.

The addition of Veendam itineraries will help meet the growing demand for premium cruise experiences to Cuba. Nine seven-day itineraries will feature the capital city Havana, and three of these will add another Cuba call at Cienfuegos, known as the model of early 19th century urban planning in Cuba. The 12-day holiday cruise showcases both Cuban ports. Depending on the departure day, cruises include the Cuba ports, as well as a combination of Caribbean ports, including Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; Key West, Florida; and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

“For many, travel is about seeking new places to explore and discovering meaningful new cultural opportunities, and Cuba is one of the most sought-after new destinations for many of our guests,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “We are excited to finally be able to include Cuba in our itineraries, and our guests and travel partners have been anxiously awaiting a premium cruise experience to this relatively undiscovered Caribbean treasure.”

As leaders in destination immersion and experiential travel, Holland America Line adds Cuba to its itineraries in order to provide guests with a thoughtful cultural exchange experience. Most itineraries include an extended call at Havana, allowing guests the time to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site and immerse themselves in a wide array of historical and cultural adventures. Additionally, a stop at Cienfuegos presents the opportunity for a special visit to Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cuba’s province of Sancti Spíritus.

The series of Cuban cruises will debut with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. In addition to the seven-day cruises, an 11-day spring cruise sails March 17, 2018, and also features the Cuban ports of Havana and Cienfuegos, as well as Key West, Cozumel, Montego Bay and Georgetown. The final seven-day Cuba sailing departs on April 18, 2018.

On board, the Cuba experience will be enhanced through the line’s Explorations Central, or EXC, program, featuring EXC Guides who will bring the destination to life through presentations and EXC Talks that will enable guests to deepen their understanding of the Caribbean’s largest island. Also enriching the Cuba experience for guests are EXC Port Maps created for the Cuban calls, EXC Encounters that will showcase the culture and history of Cuba to guests before they visit the ports, and much more. In addition, educational and cultural EXC Tours are being developed in and near Havana and Cienfuegos with a highlight being Trinidad, one of the best-preserved historic towns in the Caribbean.

New Crystal Adventures Heighten Arctic Exploration During Northwest Passage Voyage
When Crystal Serenity returns to the Arctic north on August 15 for the second transit of the Northwest Passage, she will navigate a route through territories of Alaska, Canada and Greenland that are rarely explored by recreational travelers, remaining the only luxury cruise line to make the intrepid trip. During Crystal's 2017 "Northwest Passage Explorer" voyage, guests will have more opportunities than ever to immerse themselves in the nuances of the local communities and breathtaking nature and terrain of the region. New Crystal Wilderness Adventures ashore have been added to the roster of more than 100 excursions available to travelers, including Crystal's exclusive "Boutique Adventures," which are not offered with any other cruise line. Among the new experiences are:

• Arctic scuba diving, beginning in Cambridge Bay and exploring the distinct underwater world and sea life that thrives in the icy waters at the top of the world.
• Three nights on the northernmost tip of Canada/Ellesmere/Greenland, during an exclusive Crystal Overland Adventure from Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada. Guests will venture on an extended visit to the community of Grise Fjord, and take in magnificent views of the waterways surrounding Canada and Greenland, as well as the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Chartered aircraft to the Hamlet of Gjoa Haven (Boutique Adventure), located on the southeast coast of King William Island at the heart of the Northwest Passage, an integral location of the expedition of John Ross (1829-1833) and near the point at which the Franklin Expedition met its fate in 1845. From Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada.
• Visit to Iglooplik (Boutique Adventure), located north of the Arctic Circle and home to a vibrant artistic community, considered to the cultural epicenter for the Inuit people. Crystal guests will be treated to a traditional performance by the Artcirq circus troupe, who performed during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. From Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada.
• Fly fishing for Arctic Char on the Ekaluk River, where the favorite of the local people swims abundantly and grows to exceptionally large size. Guests will be transported to the ideal fishing spot along the river's bank by float plane from Cambridge Bay.

Dozens of additional adventures ashore and on water range from possible sightings of polar bears, whales and narwhal to trekking across glaciers and golfing – yes, golfing – on the open tundra of Canada's Northwest Territories. Throughout the cruise, additional crew, plus an expert expedition team, will be on hand for shore-side endeavors, while an escort ship will accompany Crystal Serenity the entire way, stocked with special "adventure equipment" including Zodiacs, kayaks and a helicopter.

"The extent of discovery possible in the Northwest Passage is virtually limitless, and we are thrilled to offer our guests more choices than ever to fully explore this astounding and fascinating region," says Edie Rodriguez, Crystal's CEO and president.

In addition to the Crystal Adventures listed on Crystal's website, the ship's captain will position the ship to take advantage of impromptu "Unexpected Adventures," including Zodiac landings on glaciers, kayaking in protected bays, helicopter departures off the deck of Ernest Shackleton for landings on remote and uninhabited areas with awe-inspiring views and trekking the tundra with an expert guide, favorable weather conditions permitting. Likewise, the expedition teams will be on the lookout for wildlife sightings along the journey, and will alert guests to visible polar bears, whales and other animals whenever possible.

Consistent with the extreme terrain and conditions found in the Arctic Circle and northernmost areas of the world, many Crystal Adventures on this voyage are recommended solely for physically capable travelers. In select destinations (Ulukhaktok, Cambridge Bay and Pond Inlet), simply accessing the port for a day at leisure requires a certain level of dexterity for "wet" landings, as the ports are only reachable by Zodiac and involve slippery conditions.

The 32-day Northwest Passage voyage sails from Seward to New York, calling in Kodiak, Dutch Harbor and Nome, Alaska; Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories; Cambridge Bay and Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada; Ilulissat, Sisimiut and Nuuk, Greenland; Bar Harbor, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts; and Newport, Rhode Island. Notable passages include the Bering, Beaufort, Chukchi, and Labrador Seas, the fjords of Baffin Island, the Bellot, Victoria, Dolphin and Union Straits, Beechey Island/Radstock Bay, and Peel Sound.

Princess Cruises Announces 2018-2019 Americas Season
Princess Cruises has announced its 2018-2019 Americas cruise itineraries including sailings to the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Hawaii, the California Coast, and Alaska. On sale today, the upcoming season includes 12 ships, sailing to over 70 destinations on more than 40 unique itineraries on 250 departures from six North American homeports.

Four of the 12 ships - Royal Princess, Regal Princess, Caribbean Princess and Island Princess - will be OCEAN Medallion enabled for this fall 2018-spring 2019 season. Guests will experience the highly anticipated, wearable device powered by a first-of-its-kind interactive technology platform within the One Cruise Experience Access Network™ (O·C·E·A·N™), making possible a new level of personalization that delivers an enhanced guest experience not previously available in the global vacation industry.

Americas program highlights of the upcoming 2018-2019 season include:

• The debut of Royal Princess on the West Coast as the cruise line's largest ship ever to sail to Mexico.
• Two new seven-day Pacific Coast itineraries featuring 7-day roundtrip departures from Seattle along the California Coast and 7-day roundtrip San Francisco to British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.
• Largest offering of 5-day Cabo San Lucas Getaways with nine all including overnight stays in the most popular port of Mexico.
• An expanded program of our Caribbean 7-day itineraries, now with departures on both Saturdays and Sundays.
• Returning season of three ways to see the Panama Canal – from the East Coast, from the West Coast or Ocean to Ocean.
• More sailings to Alaska roundtrip from Los Angeles with Ruby Princess and Star Princess both sailing on a 12-day itinerary in April 2019.
• MORE ASHORE evening stays will be offered on select itineraries in the Caribbean, California and Hawaii, including Aruba, Curacao, St. Thomas, Cozumel, San Francisco, San Diego, Long Beach and Honolulu - and overnight stays in Cabo San Lucas on the 5- and 10-day voyages from Los Angeles.
• UNESCO World Cruise Heritage Site opportunities offered, including the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park in St. Kitts, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from Hilo, Casco Viejo in Panama City and Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.

"Our 2018-19 Americas season brings local cultures and iconic destinations to our guests with award-winning itinerary options from six homeports in the United States," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "And, once on board, they can relax and unwind and let our warm and welcoming crew ensure they have an incredible cruise vacation and 'come back new.'"

Mexico
There are five ships sailing four unique itineraries on over 35 departures to five destinations on five-, seven-, or 10-day voyages from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Royal Princess debuts sailing from Los Angeles as the largest Princess ship to sail the Mexican Riviera on a series of seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises. The ever-popular Mexican Riviera voyages return, and are available as seven-day cruises from Los Angeles visiting the ports of Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas, or as 10-day voyages from San Francisco with the added port of Manzanillo.

The 10-day Baja Peninsula & Sea of Cortez cruise returns on Star Princess, sailing from Los Angeles to the ports of La Paz, Loreto, Puerto Vallarta with an overnight stay in Cabo San Lucas.

Princess Cruises is offering more 5-day Cabo San Lucas Getaways than ever which include MORE ASHORE evening stays in Cabo San Lucas on Emerald Princess and Star Princess.

California Coast
This season offers eight ships, sailing 12 unique itineraries on over 25 departures to more than 10 destinations on voyages of one to 10 days from Seattle, Los Angeles, Vancouver, B.C. and San Francisco.

Royal Princess will sail for the first time along the California Coast from Los Angeles to Vancouver, B.C. on a seven-day Pacific California Coast visiting San Diego, Seattle and San Francisco for a MORE ASHORE evening and overnight.

Ruby Princess sails a brand new seven-day Northern California Coast voyage sailing roundtrip from Seattle with stops in Monterey, Astoria, and MORE ASHORE late evening stays in San Francisco and Victoria, B.C.

Also new for 2018 is a seven-day Pacific Northwest Coast cruise on Grand Princess sailing roundtrip from San Francisco visiting Astoria, Vancouver, B.C., Victoria, B.C. and a More Ashore late evening stay in Seattle.

The Classic California Coast sailings return with seven-day voyages roundtrip from Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as a 10-day voyage from Vancouver. Star Princess and Emerald Princess will also sail on select four-day West Coast Getaway voyages from Los Angeles including Santa Barbara or Catalina Island as well as Ensenada, Mexico.

MORE ASHORE longer evening stays are featured on every call to San Francisco on these Coastal itineraries.

Caribbean
With five ships sailing 12 unique itineraries on over 120 departures to more than 35 destinations on voyages of seven to 20 days from Ft. Lauderdale and New York, guests can enjoy the best of the Caribbean with Princess Cruises.

The newly renovated Caribbean Princess sails 14-day Circle Caribbean voyages cruising roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, including visits to Martinique, Barbados, Trinidad, Aruba, Curacao, Antigua, St. Thomas, Amber Cove and St. Kitts. Guests can choose a special sailing spanning both Christmas and New Year's Day.

Small ship Pacific Princess sails a holiday 14-day Caribbean Connoisseur voyage, visiting islands not typically included on other Caribbean itineraries, for an off-the-beaten path exploration including St. Barthelemy, Iles Des Saintes (maiden call), Grenadines, Tobago, and Virgin Gorda.

Crown Princess returns to the popular 10-day Southern Caribbean Medley and 10-day Eastern Caribbean Voyager which can be combined for a 20-day vacation. Seven-day Eastern Caribbean voyages will be offered on Regal Princess, Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess with the choice of Saturday and Sunday departures. Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess will also offer a new 7-day Caribbean Explorer itinerary on select dates visiting San Juan, Amber Cove, Grand Turk and a stop at our private beach resort Princess Cays.

Regal Princess, Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess will all offer seven-day Western Caribbean voyages departing on Saturday or Sunday all visiting Grand Cayman and Cozumel, with two itinerary options including Roatan and Belize City or Jamaica (Falmouth) and Princess Cays.

Ports of calls with MORE ASHORE evening calls include Barbados, St Thomas, Aruba, St. Maarten and Curacao.

Panama Canal
There are four ships sailing seven unique itineraries on more than 35 departures to over 30 destinations on voyages of 10 to 22 days from Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver – offering three ways to see the region – roundtrip from the East Coast, roundtrip from the West Coast, or Ocean to Ocean.

Caribbean Princess and Island Princess both offer a transit through the locks and a day of scenic cruising through Gatun Lake from the Atlantic Ocean roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale on 10-day Panama Canal with Costa Rica & Caribbean voyages. Caribbean Princess will sail via the expanded Agua Clara locks while Island Princess transits the historic Gatun locks.

Coral Princess, Island Princess and Pacific Princess all sail 15-day Panama Canal - Ocean to Ocean cruises with a full transit through all three sets of the historic locks – Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks.

Coral Princess sails roundtrip from Los Angeles for transits through the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks for a 19-day Panama Canal Pacific Adventure.

Hawaiian Islands and Tahiti
Guests have a choice of four ships, sailing four unique itineraries on over 20 departures to 10 destinations on voyages of 15 or 28 days from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.

Every 15-day Hawaiian Islands departure includes the four most popular islands - Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the big island of Hawaii, with roundtrip departures from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver. Every voyage features a MORE ASHORE evening stay in Honolulu.

Emerald Princess and Star Princess will sail on two 28-day departures to Hawaii, Tahiti & Samoa in fall and spring roundtrip from Los Angeles. Both departures feature MORE ASHORE in Honolulu and Tahiti (Papeete).

Alaska - 12-day Alaska Inside Passage – Roundtrip Los Angeles Returning due to popular demand, Ruby Princess and Star Princess will sail on 12-day Inside Passage Alaska sailings roundtrip from Los Angeles in April 2019. Port calls include Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria, B.C. with scenic cruising of Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Holland America Line's 2017-18 Mexico Cruise Season to Feature a Second Vista-Class Ship
For the 2017-18 Mexico cruise season, Holland America Line's ms Oosterdam is joining ms Westerdam on roundtrip itineraries from San Diego, California. From September 2017 through February 2018, the 1,964-guest ships will sail 11 seven-day cruises calling at Mazatlán, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Boasting sun-kissed skies, golden beaches and azure seas, the Mexican Riviera is an ideal getaway for travelers looking to visit a vibrant destination that's rich in culture, color and cuisine. On board, Explorations Central programming brings the country to life through local entertainment, regional dishes, destination presentations and more.

"Holland America Line's last season in Mexico was very popular so we are adding capacity for the next season so that more of our guests can enjoy these itineraries that truly showcase the allure of the destination," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Our Mexico cruises offer convenience and ease, especially for a multigenerational family looking for a unique vacation. By calling at three ports, we're able to fully immerse our guests in the culture, history, entertainment, recreation and cuisine of the country."

Seven-Day Mexican Riviera Sailings Roundtrip from San Diego
During the Mexican Riviera cruises both ships will call at Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta, giving guests a great feel for the country and all it has to offer. Three days at sea provide plenty of time to relax and explore the abundance of amenities offered on board.

To kick off the season, Oosterdam departs on Sept. 30 with two back-to-back seven-day sailings. Westerdam departs Nov. 24, 2017, on the first of two seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises. The ship's other cruise departs Dec. 1. Oosterdam follows up with two similar Holiday sailings Dec. 20 and 27 and then departs on the same Mexican Riviera itinerary Jan. 3 and 10 and Feb. 4, 11 and 25.

Popular Ports Highlight the Itinerary
During the sail into San Diego, guests are treated to scenic cruising past Coronado Island, Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma. The ships conveniently dock near downtown, so guests can walk on Coronado Island's sandy beach, take in the Old Town or have a wild time at the famous San Diego Zoo, time permitting.

At the tip of the Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas is one of Mexico's most recognizable ports of call thanks to its unique rock arch formation. Whether lounging on a golden beach, exploring on a four-wheel-drive adventure or taking to the sea in search of gray whales, guests will find Cabo offers something for every type of traveler.

Mazatlán, known as the "Pearl of the Pacific," is where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean meet, making it an alluring coastal city. It's a haven for water sports, historic sites and nature, as well as incredible sport-fishing.

Puerto Vallarta has it all — from gorgeous beaches and activities galore to chic shops and stylish restaurants. The quaint Old Town greets visitors with an enticing mix of red-tiled buildings, cobbled streets and bustling open markets, while eco-adventures show off Mexico's flora and fauna in this paradise on Earth.

Explorations Central Brings Mexican Culture On Board
Throughout the voyages, EXC programming brings Mexico's local traditions, culinary tastes and cultural experiences to life onboard. Through EXC Encounters, local cultural ambassadors teach local crafts, language and dance lessons throughout the voyage and a mariachi band performs for guests at one of the ports of call. Guests who want to learn more about the country can attend an EXC Talk by an EXC Guide or head to America's Test Kitchen for a cooking demonstration, cooking class or themed mixology class featuring local fare.

The main dining room and Lido Market also will showcase the flavors of Mexico, while bars will offer a variety of Mexican liquors and ingredients. The ships' ambiance will be enhanced by Mexican floral varieties, and guests will be delighted in their staterooms with Mexican towel creations.

The EXC Team will provide further customized guidance for the Mexican calls, and online EXC Port Planners using tips and information from AFAR Media provide exclusive handbooks for each destination. For guests who enjoy exploring on their own, on-line and printable EXC Maps present a simple view of the best each port has to offer. The in-stateroom EXC Channel will feature a selection of curated films, documentaries and TV shows exploring destinations on the ship's itinerary.

Carnival To Host Record 25,000 Shows At Fleetwide Punchliner Comedy Clubs In 2017
Carnival Cruise Line will provide its guests with more laughs than ever in 2017, hosting a record 25,000 shows at its Punchliner Comedy Clubs featured across its 25-ship fleet.

Boasting more comedians and performances than any land-based comedy club in the U.S., Carnival's Punchliner Comedy Clubs feature a hilarious lineup of top-notch comedians who perform 30-minute shows multiple times each voyage with at least two comedians performing each night. All shows are offered on a complimentary basis.

Two early-evening PG-rated shows offer all-ages fun for the whole family while later performances feature more R-rated, adult-oriented comedy. Approximately 10 shows are presented during short cruise itineraries and with roughly 20 shows per cruise on longer length voyages.

"Our guests love to laugh and have fun and the Punchliner Comedy Club is by far one of the most popular venues on board with both established and up-and-coming comedians who keep audiences laughing and entertained," said Sarah Reno, Carnival's vice president of entertainment. "Plus, many guests have never been to a comedy club so this is a wonderful way for them to try something different and check out an entirely new form of entertainment," she added.

Added Chris Nelson, Carnival's senior director of entertainment, "We search the world for the top comedians and fly them onto each cruise for limited engagements. Not only is Carnival one of the largest presenters of comedy in the world, we are the only cruise line to provide an authentic comedy club experience on every single voyage."

Carnival's position as the leader in comedy has also extended to its popular Carnival LIVE concert series which has added top-name comedians to its diverse entertainment lineup. Recent comedy performances include Jay Leno, Jim Gaffigan, Chris Tucker and Kathy Griffin. Jeff Foxworthy will also be performing two shows next month aboard Carnival Freedom and Carnival Ecstasy while those ships are docked in Nassau.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 62.05 + 1.87%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 107.21 - 0.84%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.37 + 0.42%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 50.51 - 1.92%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Holland America's Volendam and Veendam of 1971 both started life sailing under different names for a different cruise line. What were their original names and what line did they sail for?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which Red Star Line ship became one of the most popular cruise liners of the 1920's. She was also one of the first liners to sail on world cruises on a regular basis?

Answer - he Red Star Line Belgenland was one of the first ships to go on regular world cruises and was the biggest ship ever owned by Red Star Line.
courtesy of Paulo Mestre


Cruise News - May 15, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line Makes Inaugural Call To Havana, Cuba
Norwegian Sky, Norwegian Cruise Line’s first ship to sail to Cuba, made her maiden call in the capital city of Havana last week. Norwegian Cruise Line executives were on board to celebrate the voyage, including Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings President & CEO Frank Del Rio and Norwegian Cruise Line President & CEO Andy Stuart.

“Today is a momentous day for Norwegian Cruise Line, our guests and our travel agent partners, as we open our doors to Cuba’s natural beauty, warm people and historical treasures,” said Frank Del Rio. “Sailing into the Havana Harbor today, we were welcomed by the Cuban people with open arms and excitement to share their incredible culture with our guests.”

“Our cruises to Cuba offer our guests a unique opportunity to engage in true cultural immersion with the freedom and flexibility to explore this destination on their own timetable and as they choose,” said Andy Stuart. “We look forward to our guests experiencing the wonderful hospitality of the Cuban people aboard each of our many sailings to Cuba to come.”

Yesterday’s call was the first of Norwegian Sky’s weekly roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba. The ship will sail a total of 53 four-day voyages to Cuba, with 52 including an overnight stay in the historical and culturally-rich capital of Havana. Norwegian Sky will bring guests to the very heart of Havana, offering guests the opportunity to visit historical sites such as Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; view incredible art and listen to the vibrant local music scene; and visit with Cuba’s warm and friendly residents through people-to-people exchanges. Norwegian offers a selection of 14 half and full-day OFAC-compliant shore excursions, where guests aboard Norwegian Sky will have the opportunity to have a farm to table dining experience, explore the flora and fauna of Soroa, see modern Havana in an American classic car and much more.

The Norwegian Sky will also call on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas, during her four-day cruises to Cuba. Great Stirrup Cay is a private island paradise, with white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, water sports galore and lushly landscaped beachside cabanas available for daily rental for those who wish to have a more exclusive island experience. Great Stirrup Cay was recently enhanced to offer guests exciting new ways to enjoy the island with additional pathways, seating and shaded lounge areas, with additional features still to come, including a private luxury lagoon enclave for suite guests and guests of The Haven.

Along with the freedom and flexibility that only Norwegian Cruise Line can provide, guests sailing on Norwegian Sky will also enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages as a part of Norwegian’s Premium All Inclusive programme.

Carnival Horizon Construction Moving Along as Scheduled at Italy’s Fincantieri Shipyard
Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, the 133,500-ton Carnival Horizon, is pictured here at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy, where it is being constructed in anticipation of its spring 2018 debut.

The 3,934-passenger vessel — the 26th ship in Carnival’s fleet – will offer many of the innovative indoor and outdoor dining, bar, entertainment and activity options that debuted on Carnival Vista, along with a brand new first-of-its-kind Dr. Seuss-themed WaterWorks aqua park.

Carnival Horizon will also offer a fun bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide and an IMAX Theatre. A variety of cabin categories, including spa cabins with exclusive privileges at the Cloud 9 Spa, extra-roomy staterooms in Family Harbor, and tropical-inspired Havana staterooms and suites with exclusive daytime access to a Cuban-themed bar and pool, will be offered as well.

Carnival Horizon is scheduled to make its maiden voyage April 2, 2018, with a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona – the first of four round-trip departures from this port. Carnival Horizon will reposition to the U.S. with a 14-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018.

Following its summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple, Carnival Horizon will shift to Miami and kick off a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018. Carnival Horizon will also offer a special two-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

Royal Caribbean Introduces More Options to the Caribbean from New Orleans, Galveston and Miami
After a three-year hiatus, Royal Caribbean International will return to the legendary city of New Orleans, Louisiana with the newly announced repositioning of Vision of the Seas for the 2018-2019 winter season. The 915-foot cruise ship will sail 7-night itineraries to culture-rich destinations across the Bahamas and Yucatan Peninsula. Her 989-foot sister ship Enchantment of the Seas will move from Miami, Florida to join Liberty of the Seas in Galveston, Texas, offering 4- and 5-night Caribbean cruises that will complement Liberty’s popular 7-night Caribbean vacations. The two new offerings bring more options and easy access from the Gulf Coast for adventure-seekers in the region to embark on journeys to world-renowned dive destinations, explore ancient ruins of past civilizations, and discover the natural beauty of rainforests.

Before repositioning to its new home in “The Big Easy” on Dec. 15, 2018, Vision of the Seas will offer two, 16-night sailings through the Panama Canal from Miami to Los Angeles, California and from Los Angeles to New Orleans. This will be the first time in three years that Royal Caribbean will journey through this engineering marvel.

Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas also will embark on new adventures in 2018 when the longtime resident of Asia-Pacific returns to the United States to homeport in Miami. Mariner will be the first Voyager-class ship – famous for introducing industry innovations including the rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink and Royal Promenade – to offer short Caribbean sailings perfect for first-time cruise travelers. The 3- and 4-night itineraries from PortMiami to the Bahamas begin on June 21, 2018, following the ship’s extensive, 32-day revitalization. Prior to going into drydock and her arrival to Miami, Mariner will embark on a previously announced “Global Odyssey,” consisting of three 13- to 15-night sailings from Singapore to Dubai; Dubai to Barcelona; and Barcelona to Miami.

Enchantment of the Seas arrives to Galveston on June 23, 2018. Guests currently booked on Enchantment for sailings departing Miami after June 23 will be contacted individually to transition the original booking to the freshly revitalized Mariner of the Seas from her new homeport in Miami.

Disney Cruise Line Sails to Bermuda for the First Time and Visits New Ports Including Quebec City in Fall 2018
In fall 2018, Disney Cruise Line will sail on new itineraries and to new ports, including first-time visits to Bermuda and Quebec City, Canada – both with multiple days to experience these captivating destinations. In addition to the new itineraries from New York to Bermuda and Canada, three special sailings from New York will take guests to Walt Disney World and Disney's private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay. Sailings from California, Texas and Florida round out the 2018 fall season.

New sailings to Bermuda from New York

For the first time, Disney Cruise Line guests can sail to the beautiful island of Bermuda. Each of the five-night sailings includes two full days in Bermuda, while one special six-night sailing includes three days there.

An idyllic setting for outdoor enjoyment, Bermuda offers its famous pink sand beaches, lush forests and a range of water activities. Shopping and sightseeing are plentiful and, at only 21 square miles, the island is easy to navigate and explore. With its own distinctive blend of British and Caribbean culture, Bermuda boasts a rich history in sailing, a passion for cricket and a truly unique national attire – Bermuda shorts.

Disney Magic cruises to Bermuda from New York set sail in October 2018.

New cruises between New York and Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City, Canada, a new port for Disney Cruise Line, will be featured on two new itineraries sailing between New York and Quebec City. Both of these sailings include two full days in Quebec City as well as stops at other Canadian ports new to Disney Cruise Line – Saguenay and Baie-Comeau.

With towering fortresses, lavish castles, cobblestone streets and French-inspired cuisine, Quebec City offers a taste of European charm. Must-see sights include the historic and grand Chateau Frontenac hotel and the impressive Montmorency Falls, which measure 30 meters taller than Niagara Falls. Both Saguenay and Baie-Comeau offer natural beauty, picturesque ports and local cuisine featuring plentiful seafood, wild game and the indigenous and delectable cloudberries.

Two seven-night Disney Magic cruises between New York and Quebec City depart in September 2018.

More magic from New York on sailings to Walt Disney World and Castaway Cay

Fall 2018 Disney Magic sailings from New York also include three seven-night voyages to Walt Disney World. Each cruise includes a stop in Port Canaveral, Florida, located near the Walt Disney World Resort, and a day at Disney's private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.

Adding to the magic on these special sailings, every guest will receive a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket and round-trip transportation between the ship and the theme parks. During their visit, guests can enjoy experiences like the new Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom, which will immerse guests in a mystical world of massive floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and breathtaking new experiences.

Back by Popular Demand: Cruises from California, Texas and Florida

• In September and October 2018, the Disney Wonder will sail from San Diego, California, to Baja and the Mexican Riviera. Baja sailings visit Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico, both famous for stunning beaches and exciting water activities. Mexican Riviera sailings feature the snorkeling and scuba diving hot spots Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas.
• In November and December 2018, the Disney Wonder returns to Galveston, Texas, with a variety of Caribbean and Bahamian itineraries. All cruises to the Bahamas include a stop at Castaway Cay.
• In December 2018, the Disney Magic will return to Miami with voyages to the Western Caribbean and Bahamas, including stops at Key West and Castaway Cay.
• During late 2018, the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream will continue to sail a variety of Caribbean and Bahamian cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida, with every sailing including a day at Castaway Cay.

MSC Cruises Offers Tailored Tips And Travel Experiences For Every Guest
The demand for cruising has increased 62 percent from 2005 to 2015 and nearly half (48%) of non-cruisers expressed interest in taking an ocean cruise. Looking ahead to the busy summer travel season, MSC Cruises USA — the North American arm of MSC Cruises, the Swiss-based world's largest privately-owned cruise line and market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa — has curated some helpful tips and experiences to help every type of traveler make the best of their summer vacation.

Tip: People often have very different ideas of what makes a great vacation. Cruising makes it easier to choose a family vacation by offering activities and amenities that appeal to everyone in your group —from the little kids to the grandparents — so everyone gets to enjoy their own, personalized experience. Do your research on family friendly activities the cruise line offers ahead of time so you have an idea of what to expect. Once on board, don't forget to check the daily program highlights.

Experience on MSC Cruises: Kids sail free[2] on MSC Cruises making traveling as a family extremely affordable. In addition, fleet wide, the cruise line offers dedicated activities for kids of all ages – from infants to teens. Highlights include: cooking classes, where kids are taught basic cooking skills; language courses, where children learn basic sentences in 6 different languages; themed costume parades and shows; sports tournaments; scavenger hunts; arts and crafts; and teen disco and karaoke parties. In addition, MSC Cruises offers a unique LEGO Experience Day in which kids and their parents can compete in LEGO themed competitions and games where kids earn their LEGO Junior Master Builder Diploma. While the kids are off having fun with their new friends, adults can enjoy a relaxing treatment in the MSC Aurea Spa, catch one of the cruise lines award-winning Broadway style production shows, try their luck in the on-board casino, or dine in one of the many restaurants and bars.

THE ADVENTURER

Tip: If exploring or mingling with the locals is your thing, make sure to research and plan excursions ahead of time to maximize new cultural opportunities – and so you don't miss out.

Experience on MSC Cruises: Excursions vary from port to port, but each tour is provided by certified partners with carefully selected, multilingual guides. From culinary tours of Italy, to experiencing the magnificent Tulum Mayan Ruins in Cozumel, walking tours of Split, Croatia, jeep adventures in Iceland, and exploring the interiors of the mosques in Abu Dhabi – MSC Cruises offers up to 2,000 shore excursions that have been specially created to satisfy every need and giving you the freedom to make the most of every moment ashore.

THE FIRST-TIMER

Tip: Make the most of your time at sea! Cruise ships are essentially floating cities – they are considered destinations in themselves. Guests should take the time to utilize and explore the various amenities and numerous choices of activities available to them on-board.

Experience on MSC Cruises: MSC Cruises offers unique, unexpected experiences on every voyage. On MSC Divina, guests can try out the Virtual Winery at Sea, a unique BlendCraft wine experience with professional winemakers where participants learn how wines are mixed and then are able to create, bottle and label their own blend of wine to enjoy on board, or take home! MSC Cruises also features 4D motion theaters, AquaCycling, Formula One race car simulators, state-of-the-art fitness facilities featuring Technogym equipment, bowling alleys, and most exclusively, Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows debuting this summer on MSC Meraviglia.

THE FOODIE

Tip: Cruises offer a multitude of both casual and fine dining options while on board, so it's important for food lovers to take advantage of as many as possible. Pre-purchase a dining package to venture out of your foodie comfort zone and try new cuisines at the best prices – your wallet and your taste buds will thank you for it.

Experience on MSC Cruises: Specialty restaurants are a standout feature on MSC Cruises' ships, offering guests the opportunity to experience quality cuisines from around the world, even while at sea. On MSC Meraviglia, debuting in June in the Mediterranean, these exquisite dining experiences range from the freshest sushi, sashimi and tempura created by expert sushi chefs at Kaito Sushi Bar, an open chocolate atelier and sweet treats from award-winning French chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury, and delectable Italian dishes at Eataly's Ristorante Italiano. The elevated dining experience will also be found on MSC Seaside, debuting this December in Miami, where guests can enjoy a variety of savory pan-Asian fare at the Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi and American-style fish dishes with a Mediterranean twist served at the signature seafood restaurant Ocean Cay.

THE SMART SPENDER

Tip: When booking, make sure you cruise for "deals!" If you book your trip far enough in advance, you could end up saving hundreds of dollars. Also, make sure to do your research and take advantage of package offerings that provide a great value.

Experience on MSC Cruises: With MSC Cruises' unique "Inclusive Experiences" pricing, guests can select from five different vacation packages that range from best price to nearly all inclusive, based on their own personal vacation desires. By bundling various services and activities into a package, consumers get an excellent value for price and are able to pay for all the amenities they want upfront – a highly recommended option for travelers looking to save money and stick to a budget.

THE WELLNESS GURU

Tip: Don't let a vacation trip up your healthy lifestyle – keep it going and utilize the available health and wellness amenities. Select healthy options such as the salad bar in the buffet, choose an active shore excursion such as hiking or horseback riding, or choose the stairs over the elevator. Your body will thank you for it.

Experience on MSC Cruises: Fleet wide, MSC Cruises offers a one of a kind Wellness Experience by Technogym – the first completely personalized 360° wellness experience at sea that incorporates wellness into every aspect of the cruise experience including: on-board fitness classes and activities, dedicated healthy food and beverage offerings, exclusive shore excursions, and stateroom amenities. The experience starts before the cruise even begins with a pre-cruise questionnaire designed to understand each guest's specific goals. Once on board, the guest then meets with a MSC Master Trainer, trained by Technogym, who reviews the results of the questionnaire and helps them create a personalized wellness plan for the duration of the cruise shaped around the individual needs of the guest. As part of the experience, the self-service buffet on board includes a dedicated wellness corner and menus in the main restaurants include special icons to help guide guests' food selection.

MSC Cruises is also the first cruise line in the world to offer AquaCycling classes to its passengers on board MSC Divina. Designed for all ages, AquaCycling is a full body workout allowing participants to burn up to 800 calories per hour! For MSC Cruises' guests, it's truly a unique experience, allowing them to cycle under water to upbeat music, while enjoying an amazing view at sea, and most importantly, having fun!

THE LUXURY LOVER

Tip: No vacation shaming allowed. You earned it. Indulge.

Experience on MSC Cruises: Guests looking for a more upscale, luxurious experience can opt stay in the MSC Yacht Club, which includes 24-hour butler service, concierge reception, dedicated MSC Yacht Club fine dining venues, a private pool, and a private elevator to take guests directly to the MSC Aurea Spa. With an innovative "ship within a ship" design, the MSC Yacht Club is an entirely self-contained private club area (accessed by key card only) that provides guests the best of both worlds — the privacy and exclusivity of a smaller ship with the bountiful choices and amenities only found on a larger ship, such as world-class entertainment like Cirque du Soleil, on board casinos, and specialty dining experiences like Eataly's Chef's Table. Guests booking on MSC Cruises' new builds – including MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside – will enjoy an enhanced MSC Yacht Club with additional suite options and enlarged public areas within with MSC Yacht Club.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 60.91 - 2.90%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 108.12 + 0.14%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.36 + 0.85%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 51.50 - 6.53%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which Red Star Line ship became one of the most popular cruise liners of the 1920's. She was also one of the first liners to sail on world cruises on a regular basis?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which German four stacker painted her funnels in White Star colors in an attempt to avoid capture by the British as she sought safe harbor during the early days of World War I?

Answer - The German Liner was Komprinzessin Cecile.
courtesy of John Georgountzos


Cruise News - May 8, 2017

Royal Caribbean Opens First Year-Long Program To Cuba
Royal Caribbean International announced this week that it would offer more opportunities to explore the island destination of Cuba with new sailings to Havana on Empress of the Seas. Royal Caribbean International's newly refreshed ship will sail 58 cruises of 4- and 5-night itineraries from January 2018 through March 2019, more than half offering overnight stays in the culturally vibrant city. Empress' Western Caribbean and Havana sailings are open for bookings as of today.

"Since arriving in Cuba for the first time last month, we've seen the excitement of our guests when sailing into Havana and the passion they have for the city at sail away – its people, its architecture, its food, its music. This is the enthusiasm we strive to bring to adventure-seekers who vacation with us," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "The positive reaction to our Cuba sailings is very encouraging, and we are thrilled to expand on the number of sailings for our 2018-2019 itineraries."

Empress of the Seas will return to Tampa for summer 2018, offering a series of 4- and 5-night cruises, calling on Key West, Florida, and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, as well as Havana, Cuba on most sailings. The ship will reposition to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the winter 2018-2019 season, continuing short Caribbean adventures to the Caribbean destinations. Currently, Empress sails from Tampa through Nov. 4, 2017. The ship then returns to Miami for the winter 2017-2018 season, adding calls to Royal Caribbean's private island destination CocoCay and Nassau in The Bahamas.

The vibrant Cuban culture extends beyond land to the experience on board Empress of the Seas. From cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal to salsa music and dancing in Boleros Latin lounge, guests can enjoy a range of onboard activities developed to bring the spirit of the island to life throughout the entire journey.

Empress of the Seas spans 11 guest decks, encompasses 48,563 gross registered tons, carries 1,602 guests at double occupancy and features 795 staterooms.

Celebrity Cruises Names Malala Yousafzai As Celebrity Edge Godmother
This week Celebrity Cruises has announced a two-year partnership with Malala Fund. With the shared commitment to diversity, inclusion and gender equality, the brand is partnering with Malala Fund whose mission is to secure 12 years of safe, free quality education for every girl.

Inspired by Malala’s mission and advances in furthering girl’s education, Celebrity is honored to name 19-year old Nobel Laureate and U.N. Messenger of Peace Malala Yousafzai as the Godmother of their newest ship, Celebrity Edge, debuting late in 2018.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, said that Malala's dedication to girls’ education sets an example worth following. "Partnering with Malala Fund was a natural fit as we share the same passion and commitment to an incredible cause. We believe in opportunities for all, especially as our crew onboard represent more than 50 different cultures - and amazing stories of achievement, education and economic advancement."

“Malala is an inspiration and a voice of hope," said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “This young woman is on a powerful mission, and we support it 100 percent. We are deeply honored to name Malala the Godmother of Celebrity Edge, and we're excited to team up with her and the Malala Fund to champion the global right to education.”

Fain added: “Malala Fund also advances one of our company’s key philosophies: that education is a great equalizer, providing opportunities to people who need it most.”

“We cannot get 130 million out-of-school girls into classrooms on our own. We are grateful to generous partners like Celebrity Cruises who support our work to help every girl learn and lead without fear,” said Philippa Lei, Malala Fund interim CEO.

A centuries-old maritime tradition, the role of Godmother is a lifetime title and honor. During the launch of a ship, the Godmother is responsible for bestowing good luck over a seagoing vessel and inspiring all that sail aboard by breaking a bottle over the bow as the ship is named, officiating the ceremony.

Malala began her life as an activist at 11 years old, writing a secret blog about life under the Taliban, who would not permit girls to go to school. She was targeted for her advocacy and, at 15, was shot on her school bus. Malala survived the attack and continued her campaign for girls’ education around the world. In 2014, Malala became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize recipient, donating her entire prize earnings to finance a secondary school for girls in Pakistan. With Malala Fund, she continues to fight for every girl’s right to education.

Norwegian Cruise Line Takes Delivery Of Norwegian Joy
Norwegian Cruise Line today took delivery of Norwegian Joy, the brand’s fifteenth ship and the first custom-designed for the Chinese cruise market, from MEYER WERFT during an on board ceremony in Bremerhaven, Germany. At 167,725–gross-tons and accommodating 3,883 guests, Norwegian Joy is the second ship in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class and features an innovative design with amenities tailored to provide a “First Class at Sea” experience for Chinese guests with the elements of freedom and flexibility that Norwegian Cruise Line has become known for across the globe.

“As Norwegian Cruise Line continues our global growth, Norwegian Joy’s delivery marks a momentous occasion in our company’s history, signifying our official entry into the Chinese cruise market,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. “We are very grateful for the outstanding team at MEYER WERFT, along with our operations teams and more than 1,800 crew members, whom once again have delivered an exceptional vessel.”

“With this incredible ship, we have taken Norwegian’s signature on board experience and expanded and customized it with exciting features, services and amenities that combine the best of the East and the West,” said David Herrera, president of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings China. “We are honored to deliver this spectacular ship to our Chinese guests and we can’t wait to see Norwegian Joy come to life when she welcomes her first guests upon her arrival in China this June.”

In advance of the delivery, Herrera and executives from Norwegian’s offices in China gathered for a traditional blessing from the Chinese Goddess of the Sea, Mazu, to ask for safe and pleasant voyages for the ship and all its guests. The ceremony was held at the Mazu Temple in Shanghai where, one year ago, the Norwegian team held a ceremony to obtain a blessing for the coins that were used in Norwegian Joy’s Keel laying ceremony. During the visit, a ceramic statue of Mazu was gifted to the company by the temple representatives and brought to Germany for the ship’s delivery. The statue has been given a place of honor aboard Norwegian Joy and will carry the blessings of Mazu on the journey to China.

“With Norwegian Joy, we have completed a highly sophisticated ship with a lot of technologically challenging features. Thanks to a dedicated team consisting of Norwegian Cruise Line, yard, classification society and suppliers, we have accomplished our goal of delivering a great ship on time, while meeting high quality expectations,” said Tim Meyer, CEO of Meyer Werft.

Following her delivery, Norwegian Joy will begin her journey to China, where she will be showcased through a grand inaugural port tour featuring one-day events at the ports of Singapore, Qingdao, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong, as well as VIP partner cruises from Norwegian Joy’s home-ports of Shanghai and Beijing (Tianjin). The ship will be christened in an exclusive star-studded event for honored guests on June 27, led by her Godfather, the ‘King of Chinese Pop’, Wang Leehom.

Norwegian Joy is Norwegian Cruise Line’s first purpose-built ship customized for the Chinese cruise market. The name Norwegian Joy emphasizes the experience that the ship offers, a promise that guests will ‘Experience Paradise on the Sea.’ Accommodating 3,883 guests, Norwegian Joy is designed to provide First Class at Sea experiences with onboard amenities that cater to the unique vacation desires of Chinese guests. Norwegian Joy provides a multitude of VIP accommodations including The Haven by Norwegian®, the line’s exclusive, ship-within-a-ship luxury suite complex, which also includes an all-new The Haven Observation Lounge featuring 180 degree views, and a Concierge level, an all-new accommodations category that will provide a VIP experience featuring an exclusive Concierge Observation Lounge and larger balcony staterooms. Accommodations offerings also include staterooms designed specifically for families including a multitude of connecting staterooms, for extended families traveling together, as well as a wide array of mini-suite, balcony, ocean view and interior staterooms, many with virtual balconies.

Norwegian Joy offers engaging and innovative activities including a first at sea two-level competitive racetrack, an open-air laser tag course, thrilling simulator rides, Oculus virtual reality technology and interactive video walls at the Galaxy Pavilion, and two multi-story waterslides. In addition, Norwegian Joy features a tranquil open space park as well as the line’s largest upscale shopping district, complete with everything from exceptional duty-free shops to world-renowned global luxury brands.

Viking River Cruises Unveils New Ship Design In Egypt
Viking River Cruises today announced details of the newest addition to its river fleet, Viking Ra. Recently acquired, the vessel has been stripped down to the steel to undergo a complete renovation that will reflect Viking's Scandinavian design. Tailored to an intimate sailing experience for just 48 guests, Viking Ra will sail the Nile River on a new Egypt cruisetour, Pharaohs & Pyramids, that will launch in March 2018.

"Egypt is one of the most intriguing countries in the world, and it remains a top destination for many of our guests," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "For two decades, we have led the industry in river cruising with our innovative ship design and itineraries that bring our guests closer to the cultures of the world. We are committed to Egypt, and with the introduction of Viking Ra, we look forward to providing our award-winning service to our guests on the Nile – and to their experiencing this culturally rich region in the Viking way."

During the 12-day, Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary, guests will experience Egypt's cultural treasures in seven destinations. The cruisetour begins with a three-night stay at a first-class hotel in Cairo, where guests can visit iconic sites such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, the new Grand Egyptian Museum and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. Guests will then fly to Luxor, where they will visit the Temples of Luxor and Karnak before boarding Viking Ra for a 8-day roundtrip cruise on the Nile River to Aswan, featuring Privileged Access to the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens and excursions to the Temple of Khnum in Esna, the Dendera Temple complex in Qena, and a visit to a colorful Nubian village where guests can experience a traditional elementary school. Finally, the journey concludes with a flight back to Cairo for a final night in the historic city.

The newly rebuilt, all-suite Viking Ra will boast 24 staterooms that will exclusively accommodate 48 Viking guests for an intimate cruising experience. Named in honor the Egyptian sun god Ra, Viking Ra's name also pays homage to the great Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his papyrus-reed boats Ra and Ra II. Designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships®, Viking Ra will be a state-of-the art ship with the clean, elegant Scandinavian design for which Viking is known blended with local influences like traditional geometric Arabic patterns and terrazzo floors. Viking Ra will help guests immerse themselves in local surroundings and will feature:

• All Suite Staterooms: The ship features three suite stateroom categories, each of 291 sq. ft., including 20 Veranda Suites with a full-size veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom. All staterooms include premium amenities such as a hotel-style bed, luxury linens, sofa, private bathroom with shower, air conditioning and flat-screen TVs.
• Pool and Two Jacuzzis: In addition to two Jacuzzis, the ship features a pool at the back of the ship, allowing guests to swim surrounded by their destination. A sanctuary from the sun is provided by sculptural "sail-shades" inspired by local dhow ships and intricate mashrabiya-influenced screens surrounding the Pool and Sun Deck.
• Spa: Specifically designed for Viking Ra, guests can relax in The Spa offering massage services and a variety of treatments.
• Onboard Dining, Bar and Lounge: Dine in The Restaurant, which serves three full meals and a selection of regional and international fare, then head to the clinker-built bar to share a cocktail with friends. During the day, guests can enjoy The Lounge to relax, take in the views through floor-to-ceiling glass doors or hear an informative discussion on the next destination.
• Enriching Entertainment: Connecting guests to their destinations through authentic experiences is central to Viking's "thinking person's cruise." Instead of casinos and water slides, guests are offered Viking's Culture Curriculum®, which includes a Nubian evening event on board and a local experience riding a camel. Additionally, Viking's expert Egyptologist leads all excursions, sharing the archaeological and historical significance of the sites.

The Viking Difference provides guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring them closer to the cultures of the world. Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local culture at night or evening performances. And only The Viking Way brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.

Carnival To Develop New Bahamian Cruise Destination On Grand Bahama Island
Officials from Carnival Cruise Line and the Bahamian government signed an agreement today during a special signing ceremony in Freeport, Grand Bahama, for the construction of a new cruise port facility to be funded and operated by Carnival Cruise Line on Grand Bahama Island. The as-yet-unnamed planned port will be the largest purpose-built cruise facility ever constructed in The Bahamas and will take inspiration from the beauty of the Bahamian people and their islands. Features will include a one-mile stretch of beach, food, beverage and shopping outlets, a wide array of water-based amenities and other recreational facilities. The port will also feature a pier capable of accommodating two of Carnival’s largest cruise ships simultaneously and is expected to eventually host up to 1 million guests annually.

The multimillion-dollar project will provide a significant economic benefit for the country of The Bahamas, including many employment and economic opportunities throughout the development, construction and ongoing operation once completed.

“Carnival Cruise Line is the leader in year-round cruising to The Bahamas and this new development will not only provide a truly extraordinary and one-of-a-kind destination experience for our guests but it will further solidify our partnership with the people of The Bahamas,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “In 2017, along with Carnival’s sister lines, Carnival Corporation will bring close to 3 million guests to The Bahamas via calls to Nassau, Freeport, Grand Bahama, Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays, the latter two of which were developed and are operated by Carnival Corporation brands Holland America Line and Princess Cruises. Collectively, we represent the single largest cruise company investor in The Bahamas,” Duffy added.

During the signing ceremony, Carnival Corporation President and CEO Arnold Donald said, “When Ted Arison, the founder of Carnival and the modern day cruise industry, embarked on his first cruise, it was to The Bahamas. From that day until now, The Bahamas continues to be one of the most strategic and important destinations for our company.” Donald continued, “Signing this agreement today is especially meaningful to me, as we strive to further contribute to the prosperity of the people of The Bahamas through providing experiences that continue to exceed our guests’ expectations.”

Prime Minister the Right Honourable Perry G. Christie stated, “The Government of The Bahamas has had a long and close association with Carnival which has been of great economic benefit to both parties.” He continued, “This new cruise port initiative in East Grand Bahama will deliver a cruise port in the traditional sense, but more than that, its shore project will create a new ‘destination’ with a distinctive flavour and characteristics that offer the broadest Bahamian entrepreneurial and employment opportunities, representing another phase in the development of Grand Bahama as a viable tourist centre.”

The project is subject to a detailed public discussion process, environmental studies and permitting.

HAL Announces ms Nieuw Statendam Itineraries
Holland America Line announced this week the initial itineraries of it's newest Pinnacle-class ship, ms Nieuw Statendam which is preparing to make her debut next year. A sister ship to ms Koningsdam, this new vessel combines classic style, engaging experiences and carefully crafted itineraries.

Inaugural sailings include a 14-day Transatlantic Premiere Voyage, from Rome to Ft. Lauderdale, December 5, 2018; and for the 2018-2019 winter season cruising roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale on seven-day Caribbean itineraries, with select four- and 10-day options.

Honoring the company’s past while keeping its eyes on the future, Nieuw Statendam will be the sixth ship in Holland America Line’s history to bear the name Statendam. It will be built at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard in Italy, and construction will begin this summer.

Like sister-ship ms Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam represents a new class of ship for the cruise line. Carrying 2,650 guests, the 99,500-gross-ton ship will feature several of the innovative venues that were introduced on Koningsdam as well as new concepts that will debut on the newbuild.

“Holland America Line is writing the next chapter in our evolving story, yet we are a company with a deep history, and the name ms Nieuw Statendam perfectly blends our past, present and future,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “The previous Statendam ships have been among the most beloved in our history, and we eagerly anticipate sharing this beautiful new ship with our guests in 2018.”

Renowned hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany’s designs will be featured on Nieuw Statendam, bringing his unique vision to this latest vessel as he did with Koningsdam. Also, several public areas will be designed by Bjorn Storbraaten, who successfully worked with Holland America Line on Koningsdam, ms Eurodam and ms Nieuw Amsterdam in designing the ship’s public rooms.

The first Statendam launched in 1898 and was just 10,491 gross tons. It served the fleet until 1911. The second Statendam was built in the 1910s for Holland America Line but was sold to White Star Line as Justicia before it entered service. The next Statendam served the line from 1929 until 1940, when it was scrapped after a fire.

The fourth Statendam launched in 1957 and was christened by an 18-year-old Dutch Crown Princess Beatrix, who would later become Queen and name Eurodam as well. On Jan. 7, 1958, the ship departed on a 110-day World Cruise, the first for Holland America Line. Statendam remained in the fleet until 1982, when it was sold to Paquet Cruises. The fifth ship to carry the Statendam name launched in 1993 and served the line until 2015, when it was transferred to sister cruise line P&O Cruises Australia, where it sails today as Pacific Eden.

Princess Cruises Adds More Majestic Princess Sailings
Princess Cruises today announced the addition of two 14-day Grand Asia voyages sailing between Shanghai and Singapore on the fleet's newest ship, Majestic Princess.

Available to guests throughout the world, these sailings will visit Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand in 2018, including spending more time ashore on the late night call in Hong Kong. The first voyage departs Shanghai on February 25, 2018 with the second departing Singapore on March 11, 2018.

"Based on the response we received during Majestic Princess' recent maiden cruise, we are confident she has redefined the international, luxury cruising experience," said Jan Swartz, Group President of Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia, "We are thrilled to open up the opportunity for other guests to experience our newest flagship in our fleet."

Among the exceptional venue designs, amenities and entertainment experiences, Majestic Princess features two new restaurant concepts, La Mer and Harmony. La Mer offers an authentic yet updated Parisian bistro experience with a fine dining dinner menu featuring authentic French cuisine made unique with modern twists by three Michelin-star chef Emmanuel Renaut. Harmony is a specialty restaurant with modern décor and a sophisticated Cantonese dinner menu designed by Michelin-star chef Richard Chen. Together, these two venues present guests with exceptional French and Chinese dining experiences.

In addition, guests on board also have the opportunity to taste Gong Cha, the Chinese-style bubble milk tea, the authentic American steakhouse experience of Crown Grill familiar across the global fleet, Lobster Grill and Dim Sum Bar as well as Alfredo's featuring "The Best Pizza at Sea."

Additionally, The Shops of Princess features the highest quality products direct from the brand's manufacturers including luxury brands like Bulgari, Cartier, Chopard and EFFY.

On May 21, Majestic Princess will embark on the "Silk Road Sea Route" a 49-day journey from Rome to Shanghai. During the voyage she will visit a total of 22 ports including Athens, Dubai, Cochin, Singapore, Port Klang and Xiamen before arriving in Shanghai, her new homeport in China. Majestic Princess will begin her first cruise from China on July 11 carrying 3,560 guests to a variety of cruise destinations.

Princess Cruises Introduces Stanley the Bear
Bear sightings for Princess Cruises guests in Alaska are one of the most highly anticipated experiences during a cruise to the "Great Land." For the upcoming summer 2017 Alaska cruise season, beginning May 15, all Princess guests will meet a new bear mascot on board named Stanley.

Named in a Facebook contest that generated nearly 9,000 entries, Stanley was chosen in honor of the founder of Princess Cruises, Stanley B. McDonald. Stanley will appear on all Alaska sailings and interact with guests through various entertainment activities with engaging photo opportunities. On formal nights, he will dress up in his Captain's uniform and during the day wear themed apparel, such as a lumberjack outfit, tied to the destination. Stanley will also hold storytime hours for kids at the teen and youth centers.

As Stanley falls in love with cruising, he will decide to skip winter hibernation and become a stowaway, traveling the world aboard Princess ships. He will make surprise appearances on the cruise line's newest addition, Majestic Princess, just in time for the inaugural festivities in Shanghai. From there, Stanley will embark on Princess sailings to Europe, Asia, Japan and Australia.

"Introducing Stanley, our new mascot bear, offers our guests a fun and interactive experience tied to the places we sail," said Kelli Coleman, vice president retail services, Princess Cruises. "We're excited to see in which Princess destinations around the world he ends up to surprise and delight our guests."

Stanley will always pack appropriately for the destination and wear custom clothing during his visits. For example, in China Stanley will be adorned in a traditional Tang suit and cap, while in Japan he'll debut a Yukata outfit. On board, guests can participate in a daily "Where on the ship is Stanley?" contest, and expect him to be a special guest in Welcome Aboard shows throughout the cruise.

Souvenir plush Stanley bears will also be available for purchase on board in The Shops of Princess for $24.95. Princess Cruises will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this bear to support PAWS: Princess Animal Welfare Sponsor.

Guests can share their travel adventures with Stanley socially using #StanleyAtSea

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 62.74 + 0.29%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 107.97 - 0.41%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.34 - 0.85%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 55.10 - 0.36%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which German four stacker painted her funnels in White Star colors in an attempt to avoid capture by the British as she sought safe harbor during the early days of World War I?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which of the last great liners was sold to the Iranian government for use as accommodation ships in the 1970's?

Answer - The Michaelangelo and Raffeallo of the Italian lines were sold to Iran in 1977 to be used as stationary accomodation ships.
courtesy of Erik Vandermel


Cruise News - May 1, 2017

Disney Wonder Becomes First Passenger Vessel To Transit New Panama Canal Locks
This week, the Disney Wonder transited the Panama Canal as the first passenger vessel to go through the canal's new set of locks, marking a milestone for the cruise industry. The Disney Cruise Line 2,713-passenger ship was transformed in late 2016, expanding the length of the Disney Wonder to 984 feet.

Headlining the ship's enhancements are new imaginative spaces for children – including areas themed to the Marvel Universe and Disney's "Frozen" – a jazzy restaurant inspired by Disney's "Princess and the Frog," and an authentic neighborhood English pub with subtle nods to classic Disney films.

The Disney Wonder Panama Canal crossing is part of a 14-night voyage from Port Canaveral, Fla., to San Diego, where the ship will sail cruises to Baja, Mexico, before a summer season from Vancouver to Alaska.

Royal Caribbean Reports First Quarter Earnings and Increases Full Year Guidance
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) today reported US GAAP and Adjusted Earnings per Share of $0.99 for the first quarter. This is better than expected mainly due to improved revenue and overall bookings for the rest of the year continue to perform as expected. As a result, full year adjusted earnings guidance is increased to a range of $7.00 to $7.20.

The company also announced today board authorization for a $500 million share repurchase program.

Looking at the year as a whole, the company's expectations remain largely unchanged from the guidance it provided 3 months ago:

• Bookings, overall, are not materially different, with strength in Europe offsetting the impact of Korea;
• Currency and fuel are not materially different;
• Costs continue to be under control; and
• First quarter results are the key drivers of the upward guidance revision for the full year.

Results for the First Quarter 2017:

• US GAAP and Adjusted Net Income was $214.7 million or $0.99 per share, versus US GAAP Net Income of $99.1 million or $0.46 per share and Adjusted Net Income of $124.0 million or $0.57 per share in 2016. Net Yields were up 6.0% on a Constant-Currency basis and 5.9% As-Reported. Net Cruise Costs ("NCC") excluding fuel per APCD decreased 4.4% on a Constant-Currency basis (down 4.9% As-Reported).

Full Year 2017:

• Overall, the company's booked position remains at a record level, better than last year on both a rate and volume basis. Adjusted EPS is expected to be in the range of $7.00 to $7.20 per share, up 10¢ from previous guidance. Net Yields are expected to increase 4.5% to 6.0% on a Constant-Currency basis (up 4.0% to 5.5% As-Reported). NCC excluding fuel are expected to be flat to up slightly on a Constant-Currency basis (flat As-Reported). "Our progress continues on a steady upward path toward our Double-Double goals," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO. "The year started off with a very positive tone and the tone has only continued to please. We are looking forward to our fifth consecutive year of double-digit earnings growth."

SHARE REPURCHASE PROGRAM
The company also announced today that it received board approval to implement a program to repurchase up to $500 million of its common stock. The plan will include opportunistic open market purchases over the coming periods.

Last week we achieved our financial objective of becoming an Investment Grade company with Moody's announcement improving the company's credit rating to Baa3 with a stable outlook.

"We continue to execute on our core financial objectives: improving shareholder returns, being an investment grade credit and moderately growing our business," said Jason T. Liberty, executive vice president and CFO. "Over the past five years, we have increased our dividends fivefold, repurchased close to $750 million in common stock to date and have now reached investment grade. This new repurchase program is another example of our commitment to improve returns for our shareholders."

FIRST QUARTER RESULTS
US GAAP and Adjusted Net Income for the first quarter of 2017 was $214.7 million, or $0.99 per share, compared to US GAAP Net Income of $99.1 million or $0.46 per share and Adjusted Net Income of $124.0 million, or $0.57 per share, in the first quarter of 2016. Strong close-in demand for the Caribbean drove the majority of the outperformance versus guidance.

Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis increased 6.0% during the quarter. Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel decreased 4.4%. Bunker pricing net of hedging for the first quarter was $531 per metric ton and consumption was 334,000 metric tons.

FULL YEAR 2017
The company has updated full year Adjusted EPS guidance to a range of $7.00 to $7.20 from $6.90 to $7.10.

Overall, the year has developed very much along the trajectory the company projected at the beginning of the year. Bookings started the year on a very strong note and continued to please. This strong demand for cruises generally has offset the recent headwinds from the disrupted Korean sailings mainly during the second and third quarters.

"First quarter's results are evidence that demand for cruise has room to grow, especially considering a 7% yield improvement achieved in the first quarter of last year," said Jason T. Liberty, executive vice president and CFO. "With consumers making the choice to spend more on experiences, our innovative hardware and superb onboard delivery is thriving."

The company expects a Net Yield increase in the range of 4.5% to 6.0% on a Constant-Currency basis and 4.0% to 5.5% on an As-Reported basis.

Net Cruise Costs excluding fuel are expected to be flat to up slightly on a Constant-Currency basis and flat on an As-Reported basis.

SECOND QUARTER 2017
Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to increase 10.0% to 10.5% in the second quarter of 2017. Strong demand for European and North American products, the deconsolidation of Pullmantur and new hardware are the key drivers of the expected yield improvement in the quarter.

NCC excluding fuel are expected to be down approximately 2.0% on a Constant-Currency basis. The absence of new ship launches and fewer drydock expenses are driving a reduction in costs relative to the prior year.

Based on current fuel pricing, interest rates and currency exchange rates, the company expects second quarter Adjusted EPS will be in the range of $1.60 to $1.65 per share.

Carnival Releases Renderings for Second Cruise Terminal at Port of Barcelona
Carnival Corporation & plc today released artist renderings of its second cruise terminal at the Port of Barcelona – which will be Europe's newest passenger cruise terminal when it opens in 2018. The terminal is designed to accommodate Carnival Corporation's new class of "next-generation" green cruise ships that will be fully operated by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel.

As part of an agreement signed in July 2015, Carnival Corporation will construct and operate the new 12,500 square meter terminal. The company is investing more than 30 million euros in the state-of-the-art terminal, which paired with its existing terminal at the port represents its largest combined terminal investment in Europe.

Designed by Catalan architecture firm Battle I Roig, the plans for the company's upcoming cruise terminal reflect today's modern architectural style with straight lines and a minimalist concept that will create a contemporary and comfortable guest environment.

"Our goal is to make travel for our guests as convenient, pleasant and easy as possible, and this new terminal is designed to meet and exceed guest expectations," said Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development for Carnival Corporation. "The local architecture firm has done great work in designing a beautiful facility that will make Europe's largest cruise port even better."

''This terminal marks the culmination of years of partnership," said Sixte Cambra, president of the Port of Barcelona Port Authority. "Since the beginning of our relationship, Carnival Corporation has shown strong success in our port and city, and 10 years after the opening of the first terminal, this has materialized in a new facility for their cruise brands. Carnival Corporation has been a loyal partner to the Port of Barcelona, bringing passengers of different nationalities and generating a strong financial impact to our local economy."

Construction on the project officially began in July 2016, and once complete it will enhance the embarkation and disembarkation process for cruise guests visiting Catalonia and its surrounding areas on one of Carnival Corporation's ships.

The new terminal, on the port's Adossat wharf, will increase Carnival Corporation's passenger capacity at the port, which is used by eight of the company's 10 global cruise line brands as both a destination and home port. Carnival Corporation is expecting to accommodate over one million passengers at the Port of Barcelona once its second cruise terminal is open in 2018.

Eight brands from Carnival Corporation – AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn and P&O Cruises (UK) – visit Barcelona throughout the year. Carnival Corporation guests who visit Catalonia can take advantage of a variety of excursions, such as strolling the Girona historic quarter or visiting the multi-peaked rocky range of Montserrat and its Benedictine abbey, and exploring attractions within Barcelona, such as touring Gaudi's famed Sagrada Familia Cathedral.

Beginning April 2018, the terminal facilities will host inaugural sailings of Carnival Horizon, Carnival Cruise Line's newest ship, which includes attractions such as SkyRide, IMAX Theatre and Water Works, as well as Aida Cruises' newest ship AIDAperla featuring attractions such as the Beach Club under a UV-permeable dome and an above-water skywalk. AIDAperla is one of the world's first cruise ships to feature dual-fuel engines, which, depending on availability at the port, can also be operated with virtually zero-emission liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Princess Cruises Announces Australia Deployment for 2018-2019
Princess Cruises has announced it will homeport four ships to ports in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific for the 2018-2019 season. Princess Cruises will introduce the 3,560-guest Majestic Princess to the market for its Inaugural Season, calling Australia home from September 2018 to March 2019. As the newest in the Princess fleet, Majestic Princess will sail itineraries from Sydney and Auckland on voyages from 6 to 13 days in length, and will call in ports at destinations including New Zealand, Tasmania, Fiji and other islands in the South Pacific.

"Australia and the entire South Pacific region has always had an allure as a magical place for travellers, and cruising is one of the best ways to explore this part of the world," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "We are thrilled to introduce Majestic Princess, the newest jewel in the fleet to this beautiful region of the world."

Four Princess ships will sail from six homeports on more than 95 departures with 50 unique itineraries to more than 70 destinations in 18 countries. Some of the sailings include:

• Majestic Princess will sail on a 19- and 22-day Asia & Australia voyage departing from Shanghai in March 2019. Guests have even more ways to explore the natural wonders of New Zealand with all four Princess ships sailing to the country's beautiful coastal landscapes on cruises ranging from 11- to 14-days.
• Sun Princess sails 13 roundtrip departures from Sydney to New Zealand, Fiji, Tasmania and Queensland, as well as an Asia & Australia voyage sailing 19 days from Hong Kong to Sydney.
• A maiden call to Moreton Island, which is located just off the Queensland coast and boasts to be one of the world's largest sand islands, is included on the 4-day Sun Princess Australia Getaway departing on January 5, 2019.
• Sea Princess will make maiden calls to the Conflict Islands on her 11-day Papua New Guinea itineraries sailing from Brisbane this season, giving guests more options for exploration.
• Longer cruise options on Sea Princess during the season include the full 28-day Round Australia which circumnavigates the continent as well as a popular 35-day Hawaii, Tahiti & South Pacific voyage sailing in April 2019.

To further enhance the cruise vacation experience, Princess Cruises will offer two cruisetours. The Australian Outback cruisetour immerses guests in Aboriginal culture while visiting two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Great Barrier Reef and Ayers Rock in Uluru National Park. The more extensive Ultimate Australia cruisetour includes Ayers Rock in the heart of the Outback, the Great Barrier Reef, the northern tropical city of Darwin, and Cairns.

MSC Cruises Announces More MSC Bellissima Details
MSC Cruises announced today announced more details about MSC Bellissima, the second mega cruise ship of the company's Meraviglia generation of ships. Beginning in March 2019, MSC Bellissima will cruise the Western Mediterranean for its inaugural season.

A highlight of MSC Bellissima's on board entertainment will be two Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows, created by the world leader in entertainment, Cirque du Soleil. The two performances will take place six nights per week in the purpose-built Carousel Lounge, allowing guests to enjoy a dazzling performance along with an exclusive pre-show dinner service – a table d'hôte offering an eclectic selection of creative dishes served before the show begins. This unique experience, created exclusively for MSC Cruises' guests, will be available both on MSC Meraviglia – debuting this June 2017 – and now also on its sister ship MSC Bellissima.

"Bearing testimony to our focus on innovation, MSC Bellissima will be the fourth new ship coming into service in just two years," said Gianni Onorato, Chief Executive Officer of MSC Cruises. "She will join what is already one of the most modern fleets at sea as our long-standing focus is to always offer our guests the most modern and innovative ships to ensure they make the most out of their vacation at sea."

"When it comes to the Meraviglia generation of ships, we are particularly proud of our unique partnership with Cirque du Soleil who is creating a total of eight original shows for all four ships. MSC Bellissima will feature two brand new shows, giving guests yet another reason to experience the new addition to our fleet," added Onorato.

MSC Bellissima will offer guests an unforgettable MSC Cruises experience with highlights including:

• Six ports in seven nights in the Western Mediterranean: MSC Bellissima will call at the popular ports of Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona as well as other much sought after Mediterranean destinations including Naples, Messina in Sicily and Valetta in Malta, with a wide range of shore activities carefully designed to help guests discover to the fullest each destination and its unique culture.
• An unprecedented choice of both fine dining and casual options through 10 dining venues, and in true MSC Cruises fashion, always serving fresh, authentic food.
• A vast array of family facilities and entertainment which provide the ideal family getaway and are designed in partnership with leading family experts including the LEGO Group and Chicco. Families can also enjoy programs in the DOREMI Studio Lounge, a dedicated lounge for all family activities, and the DOREMI Tech Lab, a must visit destination for kids who love technology.
• A Mediterranean-style promenade with a 262 ft. LED Sky screen, the longest at sea, which is the social hub of the ship with a range of shops and restaurants.
• The acclaimed digital innovation program, MSC for Me, which will be available to all guests on board. Employing the latest technology available at sea, MSC for Me allows guests to easily customize their on-board and on-shore experience. MSC for Me touches every aspect of a guest's vacation, from simplifying planning and making on-board purchases, to providing information and facilitating safety and security.

MSC Bellissima will embark on her maiden voyage from Genoa, Italy on March 24, 2019.

MSC Bellissima has been designed for all seasons and is able to call in most of the world's international cruise ports. With a gross tonnage of 167,600 GRT and a total capacity for more than 5,700 guests (4,500 at double occupancy), this new cruise ship will be the largest in the MSC Cruises' fleet, along with MSC Meraviglia.

HAL Launches Complimentary Navigator Shipboard Web Application
Holland America Line is changing the way guests digitally access shipboard experiences and information across the fleet with the launch of Holland America Line Navigator, a free mobile-friendly tool. Navigator does not need to be downloaded in advance, does not require an internet connection and works on the browsers of most personal devices including phones, tablets and laptops.

Using Navigator, guests can plan their daily activities, explore and book shore excursions, view restaurant menus and make dining reservations, view spa treatments, connect to paid internet and look at their shipboard account balance. Additional features include access to ship deck plans, a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and links to complimentary internet sites such as hollandamerica.com. Navigator can be accessed by connecting to the ship's Wi-Fi network and opening the device's browser.

"Consumers expect to be able to plan their activities digitally, and Navigator makes it easy for our guests to put many of our shipboard experiences at their fingertips," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Navigator is changing the way we're presenting various options on board, and with all of the convenient features it's easier than ever to plan your time and have instant access to personalized cruise details."

To access the full functionality of Navigator, guests can create an account by following a simple registration process. Registering allows guests to plan a personal itinerary, make dining reservations, book shore excursions, view shipboard account information and connect to paid internet. There are no charges to register or use Navigator.

One of the key features of Navigator is that it allows guests to select and save specific activities to a personalized "my itinerary" to plan out their cruise days up to a week in advance. Those activities show up alongside booked dining reservations and shore excursions to truly help the guest get the most out of their time aboard.

Princess Introduces Two New Stage Shows
Two new Broadway-style stage shows offered to Princess Cruises guests are receiving rave reviews – “Born to Dance,” the latest show to debut in the cruise line’s Stephen Schwartz partnership and “Encore,” based on the highly popular opera performance “Bravo”.

“Princess audiences are mesmerized by our high caliber, Broadway-style shows,” said Denise Saviss, vice president, entertainment experience for Princess Cruises. “As part of our ‘Come Back New Promise,’ providing guests enriching vacation experiences through enhanced onboard product offerings, ‘Born to Dance’ and ‘Encore’ deliver engaging experiences, ultimately creating lifelong memories for our guests.”

“Born to Dance”
Created in partnership with Stephen Schwartz, Oscar, Grammy and Tony Award-winning composer of “Wicked,” “Godspell,” and “Pippin,” “Born to Dance” is the second offering in the cruise line’s exclusive partnership. The show celebrates the aspirations, hurdles and triumphs of professional dancers, as told through tributes to Broadway’s greatest choreography in a feel-good story.

“We’re proud of our dynamic collaboration with Stephen Schwartz bringing our second revered show to life with ‘Born to Dance.’ Guests love the high-energy music and dancing,” added Saviss.

Princess audiences get a glimpse of what it takes to be a dancer, the highs and lows and that driving need to dance brought to life by some of Broadway’s most famous hits including “West Side Story,” “A Chorus Line,” “Chicago” and more. A who’s-who of acclaimed choreographers and dancers virtually join the multi-media production, tracing the journey of the great artists and shows that made musical theater history.

Overseeing the creative development of four brand new shows for Princess Cruises, Schwartz brings together an illustrious team of Broadway talent to support the productions through direction and design. “Born to Dance” is created and directed by Daniel C. Levine from Broadways’ “Les Misérables” and “Mamma Mia!” and is now showing aboard Golden Princess, Grand Princess and Star Princess. Additional talent includes costume design by six time Tony Award winner William Ivey Long, musical arrangement by Bryan Perri, conductor for Broadway’s Wicked, choreography by Al Blackstone from the hit show So You Think You Can Dance, and scenic design by Tony Award winner Beowulf Boritt. The show will premiere next on Regal Princess in October.

“Encore”
Celebrating the cruise line’s legacy of original entertainment created in-house, “Encore” is inspired by the cruise line’s top-rated show “Bravo” and accompanied by an impressive onstage orchestra.

“We embrace our long-standing tradition of creating original entertainment to captivate our guests and ‘Encore’ delivers a moving performance audiences will remember long after the curtain closes,” added Saviss.

“Encore” pays homage to the traditions of pop, opera and musical theater in a spellbinding experience set amidst the romantic splendor of a beautiful Montecito garden. Showcasing new songs performed by a true soprano guest artist and combined with elaborate costumes and stunning sets, the show is conceived, directed and choreographed by American Idol’s Danny Teeson, with musical direction by Academy Awards arranger Nelson Kole and set design by Emmy award-winner John Iacovelli.

Coral Princess, Island Princess and Sea Princess are currently showing “Encore,” with Royal Princess the next ship to receive the show in December.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 62.55 + 4.91%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 108.41 + 11.26%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.36 - 0.42
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 54.90 + 9.04%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which of the last great liners was sold to the Iranian government for use as accommodation ships in the 1970's?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which famous liner included the Knickerbocker Bar with artwork depicting the evolution of the cocktail?

Answer - It was the Empress of Britain which had the the Knickerbocker Bar with artwork depicting the evolution of the cocktail?
courtesy of William Niff


Cruise News - April 24, 2017

Silversea Christens New Flagship Silver Muse
Silversea welcomed His Serene Highness the Prince Albert II of Monaco, His Excellency Minister of State of the Principality, Serge Telle , His Excellency Archbishop of Monaco Barsi, Mr. Peter Greenberg ( CBS-TV Travel Editor, Master of Ceremony), Mr. Geoffrey Kent ( Abercrombie & Kent Founder), Mr. Gerald Lawless ( Chairman of WTCC), VIPs and other distinguished guests to Port Hercule in the heart of Monaco, for an intimate ceremony marking the christening of the latest addition to their fleet, Silver Muse.

The historic celebration, which was hosted by Silversea Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, and was honoured by the amazing performance of Sinfonietta Orchestra of Rome, as well as the renowned Violinist Charlie Siem, providing the ceremony with a very elegant and amazing atmosphere.

Silver Muse, the ninth ship in the Silversea fleet, caters to the most discerning passengers at sea, offering the highest expression of elegance and comfort, redefining the ultra-luxury cruising experience.

Over the past two weeks, guests invited from around the world have had the opportunity to preview the new flagship on a number of exclusive sailings in the Mediterranean. Initial feedback from members of the press, trade and industry representatives alike has been overwhelmingly positive, with the quality of finish delivered by Fincantieri and levels of service by Silversea crew exceeding guests’ expectations.

Accommodating 596 guests, the ship boasts an unrivalled selection of dining options on board including three restaurants new to the Silversea fleet. These are Atlantide, a seafood and grill concept that represents the ultimate in excellence and creativity using the finest ingredients sourced from across the world; the Asian-accented Indochine; and an Italian-themed poolside restaurant Spaccanapoli which serves home-made Italian pizzas throughout the day. These give guests on Silver Muse a choice of eight restaurants and also the freedom to eat “anything, anywhere, anytime” on the ship.

The ship is also home to the unique Zàgara Beauty Spa which offers a sanctuary of leisure and comfort, transporting guests on a journey of the five senses tailored to their individual needs and preferences.

Monaco is not simply the base for Silversea’s operations, it is the natural home for the company’s proud Monegasque history. Silversea showcases the culture, traditions and values of the Principality to the world, with its nine ships visiting over 800 different ports of call each year.

Attending the christening ceremony, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco said: “On behalf of the Principality of Monaco I would like to extend a warm welcome to Silver Muse, its crew and passengers. She represents the next generation of cruise ships in both fuel efficiency and energy saving technology. We share with Silversea common values and principles in relation with responsable environmental practices and the development of a sustainable business activity. The preservation of the oceans is a crucial priority for future generations."

Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Silversea Chairman, said: “The close ties between Silversea and the Principality of Monaco reflect not only our commitment to this beautiful region but also the history and values that we adhere to. Silversea is an Italian family-owned business yet our heart will always be shared with the Principality as we continue to go from strength to strength. As the home of Silversea, Monaco was always the natural choice for the christening of our new flagship, Silver Muse, and it is with great pleasure that we can share this milestone with both the residents and guests of the Principality.”

Roberto Martinoli, CEO at Silversea Cruises, added: “Silversea is associated with exceptional quality and voyages that leave long lasting memories of discovery and wonder. At a time when we are investing in our entire fleet Silver Muse offers guests a taste of what is to come. Silver Muse represents an evolution of the hallmarks that set Silversea apart from the competition. With eight dining options offering 28 variations of culinary delights, Silver Muse has redefined the art of gastronomy at sea. With more open-air spaces and state of the art facilities we are sure that both new and returning guests will enjoy unforgettable memories on board.

Crystal Announces Complete Details Of Crystal Symphony & Crystal Serenity Redesigns
Crystal unveiled this week the complete plans for Crystal Symphony's and Crystal Serenity's dry dock transformations. In what the company is calling the "Evolution of Crystal Luxury," in 2017 and 2018, Crystal will embark on the multi-million-dollar investment that will see the two ships reimagined to new standards of innovative luxury. The plans for Crystal's two ocean ships are the latest in its tremendous brand expansion, which will also see new river yachts, new ocean-going vessels and a privately-owned Boeing 777 join the fleet in the next three years.

"Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity are the foundation of Crystal and continue to embody the cornerstones of the celebrated Crystal Experience," says Crystal CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez. "These ships have earned us not only acclaim from the world's most eminent entities and publications for more than two decades, but more importantly, the loyalty of the world's most discerning travelers and travel partners. We are committed to continuing their reign as the most luxurious ships at sea by investing in changes and updates that will far exceed our guests' wishes."

While the two ships' refurbishments are scheduled almost a year apart, plans for both are predominantly streamlined, offering guests a consistently superlative experience on board whichever Crystal ship they choose to sail. As part of the extensive redesign, several staterooms will be converted into brand new luxurious penthouse categories to take the place of smaller staterooms; imaginative new dining options will be revealed; ships will be loaded with high-tech perks; and modern, elegant décor updates will be made in many public spaces.

New Penthouses and Penthouse Suites
Both ships will gain more of the spacious, butler-serviced Penthouses and Penthouse Suites. Crystal Symphony will see two new categories of accommodations altogether: Seabreeze Penthouse Suite with Verandah (12 new suites added) and Seabreeze Penthouse with Verandah (28 new suites added), both occupying Deck 9, Seabreeze. The new accommodations will boast the same square footage as existing Penthouses and Penthouse Suites (367 sq. ft. and 491 sq. ft., respectively), while Seabreeze Penthouses will be connected by a shared an entryway recessed from the hall.

Aboard Crystal Serenity, the 36 additional Penthouses and 2 additional Penthouse Suites will occupy the current Penthouse Deck 10, and will also offer the same square footage as existing Penthouses and Penthouse Suites (403 sq. ft. and 538 sq. ft., respectively).

Penthouse accommodations offer guests enhanced all-inclusive Crystal amenities, including butler service and in-room specialty dining. Penthouse guests will also now receive unlimited complimentary dining at the onboard specialty restaurants. The conversion of staterooms into the new penthouse accommodations effectively reduces the ships' guest capacities – Crystal Symphony to 848 and Crystal Serenity to 980 – and increases the per-guest space ratio aboard the ships to 60.2 and 70.3 respectively. Abundant space throughout its luxury ships has long been a cornerstone of Crystal's platform, and a key distinction between its ships and competitors.

Refreshed Dining Options
The world-class cuisine served on Crystal ships will also enjoy a revolution, as Crystal mainstays transform into inspired modern venues that still exude the elegant culinary atmosphere for which Crystal is known. Inclusive to the renowned Crystal Experience, the posh eateries feature diverse menus of Michelin-level cuisine inspired by the worldwide destinations Crystal visits.

The Crystal Dining Room, the ships' centrally located main dining venue, will become Waterside, reflecting the chic décor and sophisticated ambiance of the main dining room aboard Crystal River Cruises' Crystal Mozart. Additional tables for two and four guests offer expanded options for intimate dining in the expansive space, while a new open seating concept invites guests to dine at their leisure between 6 and 9:30 p.m., eliminating Crystal's previous format of assigned seating and reservations. Waterside will also continue to serve breakfast and lunch during current time frames.

The Lido Café, another hot spot aboard both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, will take on new life as the Marketplace by day and Churrascaria by night. Both venues will feature an open kitchen concept with dishes made to order. The Marketplace will continue to serve casual buffet style breakfast and lunch options, and will transition to Churrascaria, a stylish casual dinner venue, from 6 to 9 p.m., creating an additional evening option for guests. Churrascaria will feature a Caipirinha as a welcome cocktail and serve a selection of Brazilian-inspired tapas, ceviche, salads and grilled seafood and meats presented by Crystal "gauchos" on sword-like skewers.

New to the Crystal menu of onboard restaurants on both ships will be Silk, located in the Trident area of their respective Lido Decks. The contemporary space will offer modern Chinese-inspired fare with family-style dinner plates ideal for sharing, and self-service options for breakfast and lunch that include dumplings, Chinois salad, a soup and noodle bar and other Asian favorites. For the dinner hours between 6 and 9 p.m., reservations will be recommended, although open seating will be accommodated. The Trident Bar & Grill will remain in the adjacent space, serving casual grilled options including burgers and sandwiches.

Silk Road and The Sushi Bar, the specialty dining venues by famed Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, will be rebranded as Umi Uma – reflecting the Japanese word for Crystal's eponymous seahorses. The authentic venues will still serve the inspired cuisine of Nobu, prepared by his personally trained chefs, and will remain the only Nobu restaurants at sea. All specialty dining reservations for Umi Uma and Prego will be complimentary for Penthouse guests, while all other guests will enjoy one complimentary evening of specialty dining, with additional reservations available for a modest charge. Reservations are always required for specialty dining venues.

Technological Upgrades
Upon completion of Crystal Symphony's dry dock in November 2017, guests will receive unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi throughout any Crystal voyage aboard all Crystal vessels. Crystal's investment in technological amenities for guests will include hardware and software enhancements to enable expanded internet connectivity and doubled satellite speed. Additionally, a new guest portal – Crystal Connect – will be launched and featured on the landing page of onboard internet connections. The portal enables guests to easily access the internet, as well as an array of shipboard information including daily menus from each restaurant, daily Reflections, day and evening activities, Crystal Adventures shore excursions and daily port maps. A number of international newspapers will also be available for digital viewing, as well as a library of box office hit movies, Crystal lectures on demand and much more. Crystal Connect will also be available in a mobile application for use on guests' personal devices.

In all rooms throughout the ships – in each stateroom and in all public areas – ultra-thin, 42-inch, interactive flat-panel TVs will enable guests to conveniently access their onboard folios, view the Crystal Spa & Salon, Connoisseur Wine Selection, and dining menus, with the ability to make any onboard reservations, reserve shore excursions and order room service. These new interactive TVs will also showcase the latest Hollywood movies and hit TV series. Crystal's acclaimed Computer University@Sea classrooms will also undergo updates and makeover, further enhancing the technological experience and enrichment for guests.

Reimagined Public Spaces
Several favorite shipboard spaces will enjoy reimagined designs, while maintaining their inherent function as part of travelers' onboard experience. The top-deck, forward Palm Court lounge aboard Crystal Serenity will be entirely redesigned to feature more intimate seating, while Crystal Symphony's mid-ship Starlite Club, a hub for evening dancing and cocktails, will also be refitted, still boasting panoramic sea views.

Crystal Symphony's redesign is set for September 19-October 21, 2017; Crystal Serenity's for October 14-November 10, 2018. The dry docks and subsequent relaunch of both ships mark additional milestones for the Crystal fleet, as the company increases its luxury presence throughout the world's oceans, Europe's rivers and the skies.

Adds Rodriguez, "Throughout this tremendous expansion, our commitment to setting an unprecedented standard of luxury travel experiences is unwavering. We will continue to place the quality of our guests' experience above all other priorities, and our exquisitely designed vessels are integral to that experience."

Cunard Provides Plans $40M Refurbishment of Queen Victoria
Following the recent Cunard announcement revealing Queen Victoria's $40 million refit in May, the luxury cruise line is unveiling the anticipated digital renderings showcasing new and refreshed features.

Scheduled for completion in June, just in time for summer, some of the many highlights include a new exquisite Lido Sun Deck for sun seekers as well as a stunning Winter Garden. The cruise line also offers an inside look at the Britannia Club Staterooms, Britannia Club Restaurant and five new luxurious Penthouse Suites.

"Queen Victoria's refit will not only offer our guests an additional 43 Britannia Club staterooms and a dedicated restaurant, but it will also enhance the guest experience in already-beloved spaces like the Lido Sun Deck, Winter Garden and pre-existing staterooms onboard," said Joshua Leibowitz, senior vice president, Cunard North America. "We've responded to our guests' insights to broaden our onboard offering by adding new bar concepts and large flat-screen TVs in all staterooms. The distinctively Cunard experience will continue with design inspiration from previous ships to offer a modern travel experience that guests can only experience on Cunard."

The ship will be taken out of service on May 5, 2017 to undergo the refit at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo, Italy and is scheduled for completion on June 4, 2017. Queen Victoria, will then return to Southampton before embarking on its maiden four night voyage, visiting Amsterdam, Zeebrugge (Bruges), before returning to Southampton.

More details on Queen Victoria's refurbishment will follow over the coming months.

Holland America Line Introduces New Beverage Packages
Holland America Line has introduced a new Elite Beverage Package for guests that features premium beverage selections. With this new package, guests may now also enjoy libations from Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff’s collection of unique, classic cocktails, such as The Ritz Cocktail, The Hemingway Daiquiri and Midnight Sun, his latest masterpiece created to celebrate Holland America Line’s 70th year of exploring Alaska.

“For many guests, there’s nothing better than relaxing with a handcrafted cocktail before dinner or after a long day of exploring in a port of call,” said Orlando Ashford, president, Holland America Line. “Our various beverage packages offer an array of choices and are a great value as well as a convenient way to enjoy this aspect of the cruise experience.”

The Elite Beverage Package features any premium spirits, cocktails, wines, beers, coffees, nonalcoholic beverages, bottled water and sodas up to a value of $15 each. On ms Koningsdam, the package also includes the Coca-Cola Freestyle program, where guests can enjoy more than 100 unique Coca-Cola flavors. The price for the Elite Beverage Package is $54.95 per person, per day.

Holland America Line has also introduced discounted pricing for its existing Signature Beverage Package, where guests save five dollars when they purchase the package online for $44.95 per person, per day, before their cruise; the same package when purchased aboard ship is priced at $49.95 per person, per day. The Signature Beverage Package includes standard selections of wine, beer, spirits, sodas, coffees and cocktails up to a value of $8 each.

In addition to the Elite and Signature beverage packages, Holland America Line also offers two nonalcoholic beverage options and a Water package.

Quench Beverage Package features unlimited nonalcoholic beverages that include any juices, bottled water, nonalcoholic cocktails, nonalcoholic beers and specialty coffees for a price of $17.95 per person, per day.

The Coca-Cola Package includes unlimited fountain sodas for $8.00 per person, per day. On ms Koningsdam this package also includes the Coca-Cola Freestyle program with more than 100 unique Coca-Cola flavors.

The Water Package offers 12 liter bottles for a price of $32.

Wine enthusiasts will enjoy the Cellar Master Package, consisting of a choice of five wine bottles, a standard and a premium winetasting, one Pinnacle Grill dinner, a wine accessory gift set and a Holland America Line commemorative bottle of wine. Cellar Master Package prices begin at $252 per person.

From that first latte in the morning until a nightcap before retiring to the stateroom, the premium line’s beverage packages and convenient beverage cards give guests the convenience to pay a one-time value-added fee to enjoy a variety of beverages during a cruise.

All beverage packages and cards can be purchased online in advance of sailing or as gifts for other sailing guests. Unless otherwise noted, beverage packages must be purchased for the duration of the cruise and for all occupants of a stateroom. A 15 percent service charge is automatically added to all beverage purchases.

The new package brings the total beverage package options to five, including the Signature Package, Quench Beverage Package, Coca-Cola Package and Cellar Master Package.

Norwegian Cruise Line Reveals Norwegian Bliss Entertainment Line-Up
Norwegian Cruise Line today revealed that its award-winning entertainment programming will reach new heights on Norwegian Bliss, the line’s sixteenth ship, which has been designed for the ultimate cruising experience and will sail to Alaska and the Caribbean beginning in June 2018. Norwegian will once again bring the best of Broadway to sea, with the 2006 Tony Award winner for “Best Musical,” Jersey Boys, and a completely new and original show created by Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Warren Carlyle, headlining on the ship’s main stage, the Bliss Theater. Norwegian Bliss will also feature a new comedy club and nightlife venue, a new theatrical cocktail hour experience, Happy Hour Prohibition- The Musical, an outpost of the legendary Beatles’ venue The Cavern Club and much more.

“With Norwegian Bliss, we are continuing our legacy of bringing our guests the finest entertainment at sea,” said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and chief executive officer. “Our entertainment team is bringing to life dazzling displays and award-winning musical sounds across our fleet, and Norwegian Bliss will continue that legacy with the Tony Award-winning Jersey Boys and incredible new concepts created just for this spectacular ship.” Norwegian has paved the way for outstanding entertainment in the cruise industry, as the first cruise line to feature branded entertainment in 2010 aboard Norwegian Epic. Today, Norwegian is known for its bold and vibrant musicals and Broadway-style shows. Norwegian Bliss will build on the company’s success and commitment to excellence in entertainment with the ship’s two main stage shows.

Headlining in the Bliss Theater will be the 2006 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical, Jersey Boys. The show goes behind themusic of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and follows four blue-collar kids working their way from the streets of Newark to the heights of stardom. Jersey Boys features all of their hits including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Oh What A Night,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Working My Way Back To You.” Jersey Boys will hit the high seas for its first production at sea after 11 record-breaking years on Broadway. As one of the longest running shows in Broadway history, including many world tours, Jersey Boys has been seen by more than 24 million people worldwide. Jersey Boys is written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe.

Norwegian Cruise Line is currently developing an exclusive original musical theater show created and produced specifically for Norwegian Bliss. The new show will be a Cuban-inspired Broadway-style musical created by Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Warren Carlyle, featuring electrifying dance, colorful pageantry and sensational sounds developed by some of the most sought-after names on Broadway today. Warren Carlyle has worked on countless Broadway productions; acclaimed as one of Broadway’s best, Carlyle most recently choreographed the Broadway musical Hello, Dolly starring Bette Midler and directed and choreographed After Midnight, which earned the Tony Award in 2014 for “Best Choreography” and is currently delighting audiences on Norwegian Escape. Norwegian Bliss’ new show will also feature costumes by famed Cuban-American fashion icon Isabel Toledo, whose diverse design eye has made her a coveted name in high-end couture, mainstream fashion and Broadway costume design, having designed for First Lady Michelle Obama as well as earning a Tony Award nomination for “Best Costume Design” in 2014 for After Midnight. Isabel’s husband, Ruben Toledo, will be developing the new show’s art and scenic designs; also a Cuban-American artist, Ruben’s work has appeared across the globe including in Vogue magazine, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. More details on this incredible new show will be shared this fall.

In a new concept exclusive to Norwegian Bliss, the Alibi is a reimagined comedy and nightclub space that will feature sets from today’s most popular stand-up comedians, and then transform to a chic nightclub late in the evening. Alibi will feature two comedy performances six nights a week, offering both family-friendly and mature comedy shows. Guests who visit the swanky club will find intimate seating and cocktail tables during comedy performances, while those who visit Alibi after 10 p.m. will be captivated by the lounge’s black and white chevron patterned dancefloor, LED disco lighting and a DJ spinning today’s hottest hits.

Norwegian Bliss’ guests will have the opportunity to travel back in time to January 16, 1919 – the eve of the Prohibition era – for a rowdy good time with the new show, Happy Hour Prohibition- The Musical. Created by Broadway sensations Holly-Anne Palmer, whose creative talent has been featured in hits like Bring It On and Jersey Boys, among others, as well as Liz Muller and Collin Simon of Pipe Dream Theatre, Happy Hour Prohibition – The Musical will hit the high seas after delighting audiences for nearly two years in New Orleans and New York City. Guests will join the talented cast in Miss Lulu’s infamous New Orleans speakeasy, Mahogany Hall, as they entertain with tales of bootleggers and intoxicating choreography by Broadway veteran Lauren Lim Jackson, set to some of the era’s most famous tunes including Let’s Misbehave, Happy Feet and Makin’ Whoopee. During the one hour performance, guests will savor their own Prohibition era specialty cocktails, each with a modern twist. The show will be performed on select evenings as a happy hour pre-dinner show and once each cruise as a late night adults-only show in the Alibi Comedy and Nightclub.

In an expansion of the successful partnership that began during Norwegian Epic’s recent renovation through the Norwegian Edge™ program, the extremely popular rock and roll venue The Cavern Club will delight guests aboard Norwegian Bliss. The Cavern Club is inspired by the Liverpool club where the Beatles performed frequently in the 1960’s. The lounge brings rock and roll to life with nightly live performances and a Beatles cover band singing hits like “Penny Lane,” “Yellow Submarine,” and more.

Dr. Seuss WaterWorks Park To Be Featured On New Carnival Horizon Debuting In 2018
Carnival Cruise Line's newest ship, the 133,500-ton Carnival Horizon, will be the first in the fleet to feature Dr. Seuss WaterWorks, a vibrant water park inspired by the whimsical world and words of the legendary children's author. The 3,934-passenger vessel is set to debut in Europe April 2, 2018.

The announcement was made by Carnival President Christine Duffy and Dr. Seuss Enterprises President Susan Brandt at Cruise3Sixty, an annual gathering of travel agents held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Dr. Seuss WaterWorks builds upon the line's distinction as the family cruise leader carrying nearly 800,000 kids a year as well as the incredible success of the fleetwide Seuss at Sea program, an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises that features immersive onboard Dr. Seuss-themed youth, family, dining and entertainment experiences.

Located on Deck 12, Carnival Horizon's Dr. Seuss WaterWorks will offer two distinctly different slides each promising their own splash-tastic fun.

Inspired by everyone's favorite feline, The Cat in the Hat slide will feature an enclosed raft slide offering more than 450 feet of heart-racing twists and turns. The entrance resembles The Cat's famous red and white hat with the distinctive color pattern carried throughout the slide in alternating translucent and opaque sections.

Sure to be equally fun will be the Fun Things slide, an enclosed body slide with whimsical polka dots and special lighting effects and named after the mischievous duo Thing 1 and Thing 2 and encompassing 213 feet of exhilarating all-ages fun.

Dr. Seuss WaterWorks will also include a 150-gallon tipping bucket patterned after The Cat's hat, along with a kiddie splash zone with dozens of water spray toys.

Larger-than-life images of famous Dr. Seuss characters – including The Cat in the Hat holding an inner tube, The Grinch sporting a surf board tucked under his arm, and Thing 1 and Thing 2 frolicking atop their namesake slide – will greet visitors as they enter the park, with memorable Dr. Seuss phrases displayed on clear partitions that surround the facility.

"Our ships are designed as the ultimate seagoing playgrounds and Carnival Horizon will take this concept to the next level with the spectacular Dr. Seuss WaterWorks which promises fun for guests of all ages," said Duffy. "Dr. Seuss is an iconic American brand and we're delighted to expand our partnership with this incredible top-deck water attraction for our guests."

Added Brandt, "We're excited to build upon our relationship with Carnival by introducing our first-ever water park. Dr. Seuss is all about family fun and togetherness and we can't wait to see our characters come to life in this colorful and exciting space."

Dr. Seuss WaterWorks is just one of several family-friendly features on Carnival Horizon which will also feature the groundbreaking bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide, an IMAX Theatre and the SportSquare outdoor recreation area with a suspended ropes course. A wide range of accommodations will also be offered, including extra-roomy staterooms in Family Harbor, which will include a Family Lounge area with large screen TVs, board games and complimentary breakfast, cookies and other snacks.

Carnival Horizon will also feature the Dr. Seuss Bookville family reading and play venue and popular Seuss at Sea activities like The Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends and the Seuss-a-palooza Parade and Story Time.

Carnival Horizon is scheduled to make its maiden voyage April 2, 2018, with a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona – the first of four round-trip departures from this port. Carnival Horizon will reposition to the U.S. with a 14-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018.

Following a summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple, Carnival Horizon will shift to Miami and kick off a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018. Carnival Horizon will also offer a special two-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

Holland America Line Introduces 2018 Signature Experiences
Holland America Line recently unveiled new culturally immersive Signature Experiences on select 2018 cruise itineraries departing from Montréal, Québec, Canada, and five of the most popular cities in Europe: Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Barcelona, Spain; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Rome and Venice, Italy.

Each pre-cruise Signature Experience was created exclusively for Holland America Line and includes an evening event, two-night luxury hotel stay and transfers. Guests who book a suite on the eligible cruises receive the Signature Experiences complimentary, but space is limited and reservations are required.

"Holland America Line guests are travelers who enjoy immersing themselves in the cultures of the places we visit, and our new Signature Experiences present some of the most iconic destinations in a unique way that isn't available to the general public," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "By showcasing these incredible cities at night with exclusive opportunities, our guests will come away with a deeper cultural impression and experiences that go well beyond traditional tours."

Taste of Montréal – Old & New
On select Canada & New England cruises that depart from Montréal, the Taste of Montréal – Old & New Signature Experience visits the city's most popular sights and takes guests behind the velvet rope at one of its leading cultural institutions. In addition to the immersive city tour, the package also includes a two-night hotel stay and complimentary transfers.

During the Signature Experience, guests visit Place Ville Marie, the city's most iconic structure built atop an underground city. The tour continues with a visit to the observation deck of Au Sommet Place Ville Marie for fabulous city views and then culminates with an exclusive evening at Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal History and Archaeology Museum, for a private, after-hours visit with appetizers and an open bar in the museum.

Europe Signature Experiences Offered in Five Fascinating Cities
In Europe guests on cruises departing from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Rome or Venice can book an exclusive Signature Experience before they set sail.

In Amsterdam, An Evening at the Rijksmuseum takes guests on an after-hours private tour of the most-visited national museum in the Netherlands. After a cocktail reception with hors d'oeuvres in the museum's foyer, participants tour the Rijksmuseum Honor Gallery, followed by a three-course dinner in the Rijksmuseum's café.

An Evening at Casa Batlló in Barcelona includes a private tour of this iconic architectural treasure created by Antoni Gaudí between 1904 and 1906. Guests will have time to take in this masterpiece of shape, color and light, then feast on tapas and drinks while enjoying flamenco fusion music provided by Son de Cajon.

In Copenhagen, the famous words "To be, or not to be…" will come to life during A Night at Kronborg Castle Signature Experience featuring this memorable UNESCO World Heritage Site, immortalized by William Shakespeare in "Hamlet." At Kronborg Castle guests will be entertained by actors who provide a history of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, followed by appetizers and beverages.

During A Night Out in Ancient Rome, guests will spend a magical evening at the Casa dei Cavalieri di Rodi (House of the Knights of Rhodes) on a terrace overlooking the Roman Forum. After indulging in appetizers and prosecco, guests will be privy to a private, after-hours tour of Rome's iconic Colosseum by one of the monument's most elite guides.

Venice reigns as one of the world's most magical cities, and during An Evening on the Grand Canal Signature Experience guests will take a motor-launch cruise to the water entrance of a charming, privately owned, 16th-century palace overlooking the city's Grand Canal. In this opulent and historic setting guests will enjoy appetizers, drinks and Venetian music, all in the company of a countess or member of her noble family.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 59.62 + 1.98%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 97.44 + 1.56%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.37 - 0.42
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 50.35 + 2.84%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which famous liner included the Knickerbocker Bar with artwork depicting the evolution of the cocktail?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Over the years many ocean liners and cruise ships has arrived in New York city to be welcomed by fire boats and cheering crowds. What year did Cunard's Queen Elizabeth first visit New York and what made her maiden voyage so special?

Answer - The Queen Elizabeth sailed secretly in March 1940 to New York City, painted in grey. The British government leaked mis-information that she was bound for Southampton. Legend holds that Luftwaffe planes were sortied to sink her there. Scottish workers at the John Brown ship yard were told to report to work with a change of clothes and were informed of their true destination after departure.
courtesy of Ken McCarthy, Miami, FL.


Cruise News - April 17, 2017

Viking Ocean Cruises Orders Two Additional Ships
Viking Ocean Cruises and Fincantieri signed a memorandum of agreement for the construction of two additional cruise ships, with an option for another two. The new builds will be sister ships to the six already ordered and will enter Viking's fleet in 2021 and 2022, respectively. The agreement will be effective subject to financing and other customary closing conditions.

The new ships will follow the same successful and award-winning design as the current ships ordered and in operation. The entire fleet is comprised of all-veranda staterooms; each ship has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons and accommodates 930 guests in 465 cabins. As with the other sister ships, the new ships will be built according to the latest navigation regulations and equipped with the most modern safety systems, including the “Safe return to port” system.

The first ship built for Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking Star was delivered at the shipyard in Marghera in spring 2015. The second and the third ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, took the sea from the yard in Ancona, respectively, in early 2016 and early 2017. Viking will take delivery of the fourth ship, Viking Sun, in late 2017 and the fifth ship, Viking Spirit, in 2018. A sixth, yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in 2019, marking Viking as the largest small ship ocean cruise line.

Viking is forecasted to have a dominant market share of the luxury ocean industry in 2020 of 23.9% (on a per berth basis according to Cruise Industry News). The additional vessels will add to this already impressive statistic. "Our guests and the industry have spoken, and they love the ocean ships that we have built with Fincantieri. In our first year of operation we were named the World’s Best Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure, and we are proud of Viking’s dominance in Cruise Critic’s 2017 Cruisers’ Choice Awards, where we won 10 categories, including ‘Best Overall’ and ‘Best for First-Timers,’” said Torstein Hagen. “We set out to bring the destination back to cruising, and the cruising public has responded. These additional ships are needed to meet the demand we are experiencing. Once only known for being the leading river cruise line, we are now equally known for upscale, inclusive ocean cruise experiences. As we celebrate our 20th year of operation in 2017, we are pleased to continue innovating and to introduce even more guests to The Viking Way of exploration.”

"The extraordinary moment of the cruise sector is continuing, and with this announcement Fincantieri reaffirms its worldwide leadership in the segment. The series – which began with the Viking Star prototype – reaches eight ships with these additional units, with the possibility to further grow thanks to the expansion plans of this dynamic cruise company,” said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. “As the worldwide river cruise leader, Viking decided to enter the ocean cruise segment with a startup together with Fincantieri as shipbuilder, achieving great success. We can but consider this agreement as a strategic and commercial success, which allows us to further strengthen our already excellent partnership with Viking Ocean Cruises."

Carnival and City of Long Beach Start Cruise Terminal Renovations
Carnival Cruise Line marked the beginning of a multimillion-dollar renovation of its Long Beach Cruise Terminal facility to accommodate larger ships and enhance terminal operations. A "FUNstruction" groundbreaking ceremony today included remarks by City of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, President and CEO of Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau Steve Goodling and Carnival Cruise Line Vice President Strategic and Commercial Port Development Carlos Torres de Navarra among others.

Carnival unveiled its design plans for the terminal during the celebration. The renovation will increase the space Carnival currently occupies in the terminal facility from approximately 66,000 square feet to 142,000 square feet. The expansion and new design will allow for a dramatically enhanced passenger experience and operational flow within the terminal. In addition, the project includes the expansion of portside "cold-ironing" to enable larger ships to plug into the local electric grid to reduce exhaust emissions while docked. Further enhancements to the area surrounding the geodesic dome which houses the cruise terminal and the adjacent Queen Mary attraction are also planned.

"The start of construction on this project further cements our commitment to the City of Long Beach and the outstanding relationships we have built with the leaders and people of this community," said Carnival's Torres de Navarra. "Our operations bring tremendous economic benefit to this area and expose hundreds of thousands of people a year to this great city. These new terminal enhancements will further grow that positive impact," he added.

Carnival has run the Long Beach Cruise Terminal — the United States' only privately operated cruise terminal — since 2003. It is one of the busiest terminals in North America, with ships docking at the facility five days per week resulting in a more than 70% utilization rate. Carnival has used just a portion of the geodesic dome that housed Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose" museum attraction for customs and guest check-in activities. The renovation will make 100 percent of the dome available for Carnival's cruise operations.

"The expansion of the Carnival Cruise terminal is great news for Long Beach and great news for visitors to our city," said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. "The added capacity will bring more tourism and economic activity to Long Beach, and we're pleased to continue working with Carnival for many years to come."

Currently, Carnival operates three ships from the Long Beach Cruise Terminal -- Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Imagination, which offer three- and four-day Baja cruises, and Carnival Miracle which operates week-long Mexican Riviera voyages along with 14- and 15-day cruises to Hawaii and Alaska. In 2018 when the larger Carnival Splendor replaces Carnival Miracle, the line will carry more than 700,000 guests annually from Southern California, operating nearly 250 three- to 14-day cruises a year.

In addition to marking the start of the renovation of the cruise terminal, Torres de Navarra announced a donation of $25,000 to the Mayor's Fund for Education. The donation, made jointly by Carnival Cruise Line and Carnival Foundation, is part of Carnival Corporation's ongoing support for nonprofit educational and charitable organizations in the homeport communities where its brands operate.

Norwegian Cruise Line To Add Lifeguards To Fleet
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced that the line will begin employing certified lifeguards at all of the family pools across their fleet. The first responders will be trained and certified by the American Red Cross in lifesaving rescue measures and will monitor the family pools during scheduled pool hours.

The lifeguards will begin service this summer on the line's four largest ships - Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic - and on the remainder of the fleet by early 2018.

"Norwegian has stationed pool monitors on our largest ships since 2015 and we are now taking further steps to ensure the safety of our youngest guests with the addition of certified lifeguards across our fleet,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “While parents are always the first line of supervision when it comes to water safety, we felt it was important to provide this added measure across our fleet."

In addition to uniformed lifeguards, Norwegian will also begin offering complimentary swim vests for both adults and children on the line's four largest ships. Parents can obtain the safety vests at the towel station on the ship's pool deck during daytime hours.

New Pop-Up Sushi Venues Added to Four Carnival Cruise Line Ships
Following the success of Bonsai Sushi restaurants on several ships, Carnival Cruise Line has rolled out new pop-up sushi venues on four ships – Carnival Conquest, Carnival Valor, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Glory.

The stand-alone eateries are located on Lido Deck and offer variety of sushi, sashimi and rolls on an a la carte basis. Diners place their order at the counter, given a pager, and then paged when their food is ready.

Sushi and sashimi, including Ebi (shrimp), Sake (salmon), Maguro (tuna) and Hamachi (amberjack), are available for $1.50 per piece. California Rolls and Spicy Tuna Rolls are offered at $5 per roll, with Bang Bang Bonsai Roll and Tempura Roll available at $7.50 each.

Complimentary sushi is also available at the Taste Bar appetizer venue and the Lido Restaurants on select nights and for a fee in the Bonsai Sushi full-service restaurants on Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream, Carnival Legend, Carnival Pride, Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Vista.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 58.46 + 0.03%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 95.94 - 2.05%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.38 - 0.83
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 48.96 + 0.87%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Over the years many ocean liners and cruise ships has arrived in New York city to be welcomed by fire boats and cheering crowds. What year did Cunard's Queen Elizabeth first visit New York and what made her maiden voyage so special?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the name of the first fully air conditioned cruise/passenger ship?

Answer - The first fully air conditioned cruise/passenger ship(s) were the Constitution and Independence of American Export Lines.
courtesy of Bill Miller, New York, NY.


Cruise News - April 10, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line Extends Cruises To Cuba Through 2018
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that it will further extend its offering of weekly roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba through 2018, with 33 new voyages. The all-inclusive Norwegian Sky will begin her 2018 Cuba cruise season in March, sailing four-day roundtrip cruises from Miami, with 32 of the cruises to include an overnight stay in Cuba’s historical and culturally-rich capital of Havana, as well as a call on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas. These new cruises will begin on March 26, 2018 and are in addition to the previously announced 30 calls that Norwegian will offer through December 2017. Along with the freedom and flexibility that only Norwegian Cruise Line can provide, guests sailing on Norwegian Sky will also enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages as a part of the ship’s all-inclusive program.

“Cuba is a spectacular destination and we are seeing incredible demand from our guests to experience the beautiful and cultural-rich city of Havana and her warm and friendly people,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. “We are excited to provide even more opportunities for our guests to experience this incredible destination into 2018.”

Norwegian Sky will transport guests to the very heart of Havana, offering guests the opportunity to visit historical sites such as Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; view incredible art and listen to the vibrant local music scene; and visit with Cuba’s warm and friendly residents through people-to-people exchanges. Norwegian will offer a selection of 15 half and full-day OFAC-compliant shore excursions, where guests aboard Norwegian Sky will have the opportunity to have a farm to table dining experience, explore the flora and fauna of Soroa, see modern Havana in an American classic car and much more.

Norwegian Sky’s sailings to Cuba will also feature a call to Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island destination in the Bahamas. Great Stirrup Cay is a private island paradise, with white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, watersports galore and lushly landscaped beachside cabanas available for daily rental for those who wish to have a more exclusive island experience. Great Stirrup Cay was recently enhanced to offer guests exciting new ways to enjoy the island with additional pathways, seating and shaded lounge areas, with additional features still to come, including a private luxury lagoon enclave for suite guests and guests of The Haven.

Norwegian Sky’s four-day cruises to Cuba will open for sale on April 20.

Majestic Princess to Sail From Sydney
Princess Cruises has announced that its latest ship, the Majestic Princess, will be based in in Sydney, Australia, over the 2018-19 summer season. With a capacity of 3,560 guests, the Majestic Princess will be the largest Princess ship to ever sail in Australian waters. The newly launched ship sailed on its inaugural voyage from Italy on April 4, 2017. The Majestic Princess will offer cruises in Europe and China before heading to Sydney, where it will be homeported from September 2018 to March 2019.

During the ship's inaugural Australian season, Majestic Princess will sail on 16 cruises to destinations including Fiji, New Zealand and Tasmania as well as two Asia voyages between Shanghai and Sydney, and Sydney and Hong Kong. Fares start from $1,499 per person twin share for a balcony room on a six-night roundtrip cruise to Tasmania departing November 18, 2018.

Majestic Princess offers 13 dining options, including two restaurants with menus designed by Michelin-star chefs - Harmony by Chef Richard Chen and La Mer by Chef Emmanuel Renaut. The ship also has 1,000 square meters of designer shopping, the cruise line's largest ever thermal suite and the Seawalk, an over-the-ocean glass walkway. Guests can choose from a variety of accommodations including suites, Club Class mini-suites and deluxe balcony rooms, with more than 80 percent of the ship's 1,780 staterooms offering private balconies.

The Majestic Princess deployment is part of Princess Cruises' 2018-19 Australia and New Zealand program, on sale April 13, 2017. The program offers almost 100 cruises on four Princess ships - Majestic Princess, Golden Princess, Sun Princess and Sea Princess - sailing from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle and Auckland over a seven-month period.

Princess Cruises Elevates Sabatini's Italian Trattoria
Celebrating the cruise line's Italian heritage, specialty restaurant Sabatini's Italian Trattoria has been delighting millions of Princess Cruises guests with traditional and innovative cuisine since it first debuted aboard Grand Princess in 1998. Nearly 20 years later, Princess Cruises today unveiled a fleetwide enhancement to its signature restaurant in collaboration with acclaimed Italian Chef Angelo Auriana.

Introducing a fresh new design and menu featuring antipasti and handmade pasta dishes from Chef Auriana, as well as family recipes curated from Italian Princess executive chefs across the fleet, the transformed Sabatini's Italian Trattoria debuts aboard Caribbean Princess following a multi-million-dollar drydock. Recognized as one of the "Best Specialty Restaurants at Sea," the Sabatini locations on Caribbean Princess and Grand Princess will offer the new inspired menu this April, with the newly refreshed menu coming across the fleet in the coming months.

Chef Auriana, Executive Chef and partner at the authentic Italian restaurants, The Factory Kitchen and Officine BRERA, in Los Angeles, is inspired by fresh Northern Italian flavors and childhood roots from his hometown of Bergamo.

"Sabatini's has always been a Princess guest favorite and this new collaboration with Chef Auriana elevates our Italian heritage, continuing our fresh approach to authentic Italian dining," said Mario Siebaldi, Princess Cruises senior vice president guest operations. "Also featuring a beautifully transformed ambience, the new Sabatini's Italian Trattoria will delight new and returning guests alike."

Chef Auriana relies on using old world grains like buckwheat and durum that gives semolina the signature pale yellow color and high-protein strength necessary to hold the shape of house made pasta. Non-traditional ingredients—like mint and marjoram—are also infused to showcase Chef Auriana's contemporary flair.

Offerings include:

• Picagge - marjoram-infused long pasta, white prawns, clams, artichoke pesto, ligurian olive oil
• Tortelloni - mint-speckled pasta, roasted lamb, pecorino crosta nera, cacio e pepe sauce, broccoli rabe
• Pappardelle - wide ribbon pasta, celeriac, nebbiolo-braised beef cheek
• Risotto - vialone nano rice, beets dolce latte, gorgonzola, pistachios
• Torchietti - whole wheat pasta, foraged mushrooms, rosemary oil

"In my hometown of Bergamo, Italy, I was born with an appreciation for the beautiful flavors of Northern Italy that I love to incorporate into my cooking," said Chef Auriana. "Now I'm pleased to share that appreciation through delicious new Sabatini's menu items made fresh daily and served exclusively onboard Princess."

More Princess chefs hail from Italy than any other country and their family favorite recipes are featured on the new menu, including:

• Roman Seafood al Cartoccio - grouper, shrimp, black mussels, scallops, potato, artichoke
• Porchetta - rolled pork belly toscana, fennel seeds, potatoes, spinach, roasted tomato
• Breaded Veal Vallet – marjoram roasted potatoes & artichokes, sun-dried tomato, provolone

The re-envisioned Sabatini's Italian Trattoria features a new interior design that reinforces the fresh dining experiences that await guests. A contemporary look reflects the innovative efforts of the Princess culinary staff, while rustic touches serve as a reminder of the traditional Italian specialties that always have been a Sabatini's hallmark.

A superb all Italian wine menu, iconic Italian cocktails and Limoncello liqueurs are available to complement the menu. A $25 per person cover charge includes a four-course dinner, plus dessert.

Sabatini's Italian Trattoria will soon feature pasta making classes for guests, with more details coming soon.

Crystal's 2017 Holiday Voyages Span The Globe
Discerning travelers seeking to fill their holiday wish lists with global adventures and extra-special touches this December, have half a dozen luxury options to suit their preferences. Aboard Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises and even Crystal AirCruises, travelers can treat themselves and their loved ones to holiday memories of a lifetime in virtually every region of the globe. In addition to the selection of destinations to explore, Crystal's roster of sleek and elegant vessels hold enriching vacation experiences, whether guests are traveling with large groups or families, or escaping for a romantic holiday for two.

Crystal Symphony – The 16-day "South African Holidays" cruise sails round-trip from Cape Town, marking Crystal's first-ever holiday voyage in Africa. "Big Five" safaris are offered in South Africa and Mozambique, while authentic village feasts and visits highlight the rich culture of the region.

Crystal Serenity – Now offering two embarkation options, which allow travelers to choose between sailing round-trip from Charleston or Fort Lauderdale, as they embark on a 14- or-15-day (respectively) warm-weather "Holidays in the Caribbean" escape from the winter chill.

Crystal Esprit – The 11-day "Crystal Yachting Christmas" packs the spirit of camaraderie and holiday spirit aboard "Crystal's Boutique Hotel on Water," as guests delve into the elite yachting lifestyle in the posh harbors of the West Indies, sailing round-trip from Marigot Bay, St. Martin.

Crystal Mozart – Sailing round-trip from Vienna on a 13-day "Dazzling Danube Celebration," the first and largest of Crystal River Cruises' fleet offers a grand experience in the heart of some of Europe's most festive locales, including Austria, Germany and Hungary.

Crystal Bach – The 10-day "Spectacular Rhine Holiday" offers just that, as the first of Crystal's two brand new river yachts sails from Amsterdam to Basel, calling charming hamlets that exude the festivities and flavors of the season.

Crystal Mahler – The second brand new Crystal river yacht to embark in 2017 will sail a 16-day "Grand Europe" voyage along the Rhine from Amsterdam to Budapest, focusing on the region's quintessentially sparkling holiday markets, boasting freshly-baked pastries, hot ciders, hand-crafted wares and carols wafting from the cathedrals.

Crystal AirCruises – The elaborate 16-day "Holidays Around the World" private jet tour poses the ultimate gift for any luxury traveler, flying aboard Crystal's privately owned Boeing 777 from Los Angeles, calling in Bora Bora, Queenstown, Sydney, Jaipur and Abu Dhabi.

"The holiday season is a wonderful time for families and loved ones to travel together and create new memories that transcend any gift or tangible item," says Crystal CEO & President, Edie Rodriguez. "The Crystal family aboard our vessels creates a sense of home away from home for guests as they share their holidays with us, whether they're returning after many voyages or embarking on a brand new journey."

Aboard all Crystal holiday sailings, guests will be treated to the traditional festivities of the season, including lavish feasts for Christmas and New Year's, and elegant décor throughout the luxury vessels. Multi-faith services will also be offered on board.

Cunard Partners with The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation
In partnership with The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation, Cunard will pay tribute to the forgotten heroes of World War II, honoring our nation's veterans with a unique enrichment program on board Queen Mary 2's Transatlantic Crossing, August 4-12, 2017.

On this 8-night voyage departing from Southampton, England, guests will have the opportunity to attend lectures and interact with several WWII veterans, hearing first-hand about their experiences during America's involvement in the war. From the "Battle of the Atlantic," to the conflicts in Normandy and Pearl Harbor, these distinguished war heroes will engage in discussions and Q&A's, giving guests a very personal glimpse into the human elements of wartime service.

"Cunard played a pivotal role in World War II, with our liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth transported as troop ships, and together carried over 1.5 million servicemen across the Atlantic, to and from the field of battle," said Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president, Cunard North America. "We are honored to partner with The Greatest Generations Foundation to offer our guests this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet these decorated veterans."

Actual WWII veterans scheduled to be on board will include American veterans Arthur Staymates, who stormed Omaha beach in D-Day's first wave with German machine-gun fire hammering on the door of his landing craft; Joseph Reilly, who parachuted into Normandy five hours before the seaborne landing; Douglas Dillard, who made his first parachute combat jump in August 1944 in the South of France; Jack Holder, who was a Naval Flight Engineer stationed on the Island of Oahu and had to take cover during the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor; Michael Ganitch, who served on the USS Pennsylvania and witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor; and Stuart Hedley, also at Pearl Harbor, who recalls leaping from his ship into the water and coming up amid debris and burning oil and swimming for his life towards the shoreline.

Canadian veteran Kenneth Scott, who served in the Royal Canadian Navy and saw wartime action aboard the RMS Aquitania, will also join the voyage. With a normal troop capacity of 7,400, the RMS Aquitania was among the select group of large, fast former passenger ships capable of sailing independently without escort transporting large numbers of troops that were assigned worldwide as needed.

Q&A's and other discussions with the WWII veterans will cover topics including:

• The Battle of the Atlantic: How the Allies Won the War
• Pearl Harbor: An American Sailor's Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor
• The Dead & Those About To Die: The Big Red One At Omaha Beach
• Normandy: D-Day with the Screaming Eagles
• Battle of the Bulge: Alamo in the Ardennes

People In The News
Carnival Corporation announced today that Darrell Campbell joins the company as corporate treasurer, effective April 10, 2017. His responsibilities will include overseeing global treasury operations, risk management, tax compliance and tax strategy. Campbell fills the role currently held by Josh Weinstein, who is transitioning to a new position as president of Carnival UK.

Campbell brings to Carnival Corporation extensive accounting, audit and financial experience. He most recently served as an audit partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, where he led financial statement and internal control audits of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies with revenues over $10 billion and market capitalization up to $40 billion. During his career he has supervised multinational teams, provided regulatory reporting advice for capital market transactions and periodic filings, and co-authored guidance on industry topics including compliance, accounting and financial reporting.

"Darrell brings us nearly two decades of extensive financial experience, and has the depth of expertise and insights to provide critical leadership for this key global role," said David Bernstein, chief financial officer for Carnival Corporation. Campbell will report to Bernstein and will be based at Carnival Corporation's headquarters in Miami.

Campbell is a licensed CPA in Florida and New Hampshire. He has master's degrees in accounting from Florida International University and in international business from the University of Florida. He also holds a bachelor's degree from University of the West Indies in Jamaica.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 58.44 - 0.48%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 97.95 - 0.26%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.40 - 2.13%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 48.54 - 3.29%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of the first fully air conditioned cruise/passenger ship?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the name of America's only nuclear powered merchant vessel and how many passengers could she carry? Bonus: Where is she now?

Answer - The ship was the Savannah and she carried 60 passengers.She is currently moored at the Canton Marine Terminal in Baltimore, Maryland.
courtesy of John O'Neil, Miami, FL


Cruise News - April 3, 2017

Majestic Princess Delivered To Princess Cruises
On March 30, 2017, Carnival Corporation took delivery of Majestic Princess, from shipbuilder Fincantieri at an official handover ceremony at the shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The cruise line's first international luxury ship tailored for the China market, will start her inaugural season in Europe until May and then embark on a repositioning cruise themed the Silk Road Sea Route journey to her new homeport in Shanghai where she will begin her first homeport season in July.

The ceremony was attended by the Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni; executives from Carnival Corporation & plc including Micky Arison, Chairman; Arnold Donald, Chief Executive Officer; Stein Kruse, Chief Executive Officer of Holland America Group; Jan Swartz, Group President of Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia; Anthony Kaufman, Executive Vice President International Operations of Princess Cruises; and Cherry Wang, Vice President and General Manager of the Princess Cruises' brand offices in China. Fincantieri was represented by Giuseppe Bono, Chief Executive Officer, and Giampiero Massolo, Chairman.

"Majestic Princess has arrived and we are thrilled to add this new jewel to our crown representing the newest, most stylish and most luxurious flagship to our fleet," said Jan Swartz Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia group president. "We are ready to deliver an exceptional international cruise vacation experience to our guests."

"Fincantieri proudly delivers Majestic Princess today to our long-term partner, Princess Cruises," said Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri's Chief Executive Officer and SEVP Merchant Ships Business Unit ad interim. "The collaboration between Fincantieri, Carnival Corporation & plc and Princess Cruises to tailor Majestic Princess for China makes her special for us. We are proud to deliver this stunningly beautiful luxury cruise liner and highly value the partnership we have with Princess Cruises dating back to the 1980's. We will continue to deliver increasingly sophisticated ships in the future that serve the needs of our partners and their treasured guests."

After the successful handover from Fincantieri, Majestic Princess sets sail on a preview cruise (March 31 to April 4) that will include loyal Princess guests, international media, travel agent partners and brand partners from around the world, including many guests from China.

Departing April 4, 2017, the 143,000-ton Majestic Princess will sail on her inaugural voyage, a five-day Adriatic Sea cruise roundtrip from Rome with stops in Kotor and Corfu. Following her maiden cruise, Majestic Princess will tour Europe, offering guests a chance to experience the ship on 7-, 14-, 21- and 28-day cruises departing from Rome, Barcelona or Athens.

On May 21, Majestic Princess will embark on the "Silk Road Sea Route" a 49-day journey from Rome to Shanghai. During the voyage she will visit a total of 22 ports including Athens, Dubai, Cochin, Singapore, Port Klang and Xiamen before arriving in Shanghai, her new homeport in China. Majestic Princess will begin her first cruise from China on July 11 carrying 3,560 guests to a variety of cruise destinations.

Viking Line has Signed a Shipbuilding Contract
Viking Line announced this week that it has signed a conditional shipbuilding contract with the Chinese company Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry Co. concerning a new passenger cruise ship for the Turku (Finland)–Åland Islands–Stockholm (Sweden) route, delivery in 2020.

A final agreement is subject to the approval of the Board of Directors of both the buyer and the seller, as well as financial arrangements entered. The total contract amount is about 194 million euros. The agreement also includes an option on another vessel.

The new vessel will be a collaborative project, and the plan is to engage several Finnish and other European suppliers. This energy-efficient vessel will be 218 metres in length and have a gross registered tonnage of about 63,000 tonnes. Passenger capacity will be 2,800 people, and the length of its cargo lanes will be 1,500 metres. Environmental considerations and energy efficiency will be very important in planning and building the ship.

Viking Line will hire Scandinavian architects for the interior design. The new vessel will provide a brand-new passenger experience for guests.

Norwegian Jade Journeys To The Caribbean As A Nearly New Ship
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jade sailed into her seasonal homeport of Tampa as an essentially new vessel this morning, following a three week dry dock where she received enhancements to every part of the onboard experience, from two brand new restaurants and two new bars and lounges, updated design and décor in many public spaces, and a refurbishment of all staterooms. Norwegian Jade’s extensive renovation is a part of The Norwegian Edge™, an investment program that sets a high standard of excellence encompassing the entire guest experience across Norwegian’s fleet. Norwegian Jade’s extensive enhancements come just in time for her highly anticipated summer season, the brand’s first ever complete season sailing from Hamburg, Germany to the Norwegian Fjords, with embarkation also available in the UK. “We’re thrilled to welcome Norwegian Jade back into the fleet with her new stylish finishes and modernized onboard atmosphere,” said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line president and chief executive officer. “It is our sincere goal to deliver a fantastic vacation experience across our entire fleet, and this update to Norwegian Jade is an opportunity for us to enhance the ship’s hardware to match the fantastic guest experience our hardworking crew delivers to our guests every day.”

Norwegian Jade guests can now enjoy two new restaurants, as well as redesigned spaces in many of the ship’s existing restaurants. Norwegian’s 24-hour neighborhood pub-style restaurant, O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill, has been added to deck eight. Serving up cold brews and snack-time favorites in a relaxed atmosphere, the new venue features modern flooring, refurbished front and back bars and new banquet seating. The Pit Stop, a newly installed concept for Norwegian Jade, will serve up poolside fun and fare in a 1950s-style American diner atmosphere, clad with vintage license plates, gas station signage and classic car elements.

Moderno Churrascaria received a new home on deck 13 and features a new upscale glass door entrance, floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing for stunning panoramic views of the ocean enhanced by new flooring, wall coverings and upgraded furniture. Now, even more Norwegian Jade guests can enjoy Cagney’s Steakhouse, as the ever-popular restaurant has added additional seating to the completely refurbished space, which offers a new color scheme befitting of a classic steakhouse, upgraded flooring, new wall linings and an intimate new virtual fireplace. La Cucina, Norwegian’s signature Italian specialty restaurant, received an elegant modernization with several new features including updated décor and furniture, flooring, a new decorative bar and an impressive wine display wall. Teppanyaki, Norwegian’s Japanese hibachi grill restaurant, was enhanced with updated furnishings and fittings while complimentary favorites Jasmine Garden and the Garden Café also received extensive enhancements including newly designed spaces with upgrades to furniture, new flooring and much more.

Those looking to dance the night away aboard Norwegian Jade can now do so in the chic new Bliss Ultra Lounge on deck seven, which has the feel of an upscale Miami nightclub and features a cool color palette of silvers, greys and black. Guests who wish to indulge in an exotic cocktail can enjoy their favorite mojito, or opt for a flight and try them all, at the new Sugarcane Mojito Bar on deck 13 adjacent to Moderno Churrascaria, a Norwegian fan favorite since the concept debuted on Norwegian Getaway in 2014. Sugarcane features, new granite bar fronts, as well as new furnishings and finishes. Norwegian Jade’s Spinnaker Lounge also received a complete redesign of the entire space to include new flooring and window treatments, decorative chandeliers, reupholstered seating and refurbished bars with contemporary mosaic tiling and LED lighting.

Every stateroom on the ship was enhanced during this renovation, with all receiving new carpets, furniture, flat screen TVs, new larger headboards with USB charging outlets and more than 2000 new pieces of artwork. Guests sailing in The Haven, Norwegian’s ship-within-a-ship luxury suite concept, will now enjoy a more modern chic atmosphere in all suites and villas, as they now feature new finishes to walls and ceilings, new flooring throughout the suites and balconies, plus new soft goods and drapery. Norwegian Jade’s villas and suites also received more than 250 new pieces of artwork alone. Luxury has been taken to the next level aboard Norwegian Jade with a complete refurbishment of the ship’s Haven Courtyard. Guests of the ship’s top villas and suites can soak up the sun in style one of the Haven’s four new plush cabanas nestled at the top of the ship or take a dip in the newly refinished pool surrounded by modern furnishings and new artwork.

The Atrium, the heart of the action on Norwegian Jade, has been enhanced with a refreshed look and décor brought to life with an eye-catching, custom-designed marquee chandelier, as well as new modern finishes in modern calming grey tones, updated flooring, enhanced reception and shore excursion areas, a new large TV screen and relaxed banquette seating so guests can relax in a contemporary lounge atmosphere while enjoying all of the ship’s excitement. Norwegian Jade will also now offers guests easier ways to view and purchase mementos of their cruise vacation with an upgraded Photo Gallery featuring new individual digital monitors and larger photo display panels, along with sleek furniture and tile flooring. The ship’s main pool deck was also touched by this extensive refurbishment, with the addition of glistening new lighting fixtures as well as new flooring and tiling around the pool and whirlpools.

Norwegian Jade now offers fitness enthusiasts the opportunity to work up a sweat with all-new TechnoGym fitness equipment and new rubber flooring, ideal for weightlifting and plyometric workouts. Junior cruisers aboard Norwegian Jade can now enjoy playtime with new floorings in Splash Academy that include new noise reducing mats so kids are free to play into the evening hours. The ship’s elevator landings were also all refurbished with updated interior finishes and flooring, new wall coverings, new carpet and updated light fixtures.

Norwegian Jade is currently sailing the final part of her winter season, cruising from Tampa to the Western Caribbean. On April 30, she will journey across the Atlantic to her summer homeports of Southampton and Hamburg, where she’ll sail the Norwegian Fjords as well as Norway & North Cape itineraries.

Risk Averse Couple Sails on 200th Carnival Cruise
When Bernard and Janice Caffary boarded the Carnival Liberty last week, they stepped into the record books, becoming the first guests to ever sail on 200 cruises with Carnival Cruise Line. What’s even more remarkable is that the risk averse Caffarys achieved this feat in just 15 years, meaning that the couple averages nearly 15 cruises a year with Carnival, making them among the most loyal guests at sea.

Overall the Caffarys have spent a whopping 878 days – more than two and a half years –aboard Carnival Cruise Line ships. And the fun isn’t going to stop any time soon as the couple has another 30 cruises booked with the line.

To commemorate their 200-cruise milestone, the Carnival Liberty team rolled out the red carpet, going all out to make the Caffary’s cruise extra special and memorable.

The VIP treatment began as soon as they arrived in Port Canaveral with welcoming signage throughout the terminal and ship. During the cruise, the Caffarys received a number of commemorative gifts and unique onboard experiences. They were also the guests of honor during special VIP celebrations held both in the ship’s atrium and the main show lounge attended by dozens of Carnival Liberty team members.

Carnival Liberty operates year-round three- and four-day cruises from Port Canaveral.

HAL Names Frits van der Werff Vice President, Food and Beverage
Holland America Line has named Frits van der Werff to the position of vice president, food and beverage within the Guest Experience and Product Development Department. In this role, van der Werff will oversee all of the culinary operations as well as manage beverage operations for the Holland America Line fleet, including revenue activities, product innovation and service.

The Netherlands native, who will be based in Seattle at the Holland America Line headquarters, will report to Michael Smith, senior vice president, guest experience and product development, as well as have reporting responsibilities to Paul Goodwin, executive vice president, onboard revenue and port/shore operations, for Holland America Group.

"Holland America Line is highly respected for the culinary and beverage experiences onboard our ships, and we're thrilled to have someone of Frits' caliber join our team in this leadership role," said Smith. "Frits brings a wealth of high-end food and beverage and cruise experience to our company, and we look forward to tapping into his knowledge and expertise as we continue to evolve our brand and our food and beverage offerings."

Most recently van der Werff was brand performance director at MSC Cruises where he was the project leader for food and beverage and hotel operations in the North American market. Additional cruise line experience includes director, restaurant operations and development at Norwegian Cruise Line.

Van der Werff has extensive experience outside of the cruise industry, having served as director of operations for Fisher Island Club on Florida's most exclusive private island; director of food and beverage for both the St. Regis Resort & Spas in Aspen, Colorado, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and director of food and beverage for One Bal Harbour Resort and Spa in Miami, Florida.

Van der Werff holds a Bachelor of International Hospitality Management degree from Stenden University in the Netherlands.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 58.72 - 0.25%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 97.70 - 1.59%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.35 - 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 50.19 - 1.63%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of America's only nuclear powered merchant vessel and how many passengers could she carry? Bonus: Where is she now?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Two steamship companies, one still in business and mighty powerful, were named P&O. The "P" for both companies stands for "peninsular". What does the "O" stand for in each name? (The "O" is for a different word for each.)

Answer - The largest passenger ship to ever fly the U.S. flag is Pride of America for NCL.
courtesy of Byron Clayton, Singapore


Cruise News - March 27, 2017

Norwegian Joy Begins Her Journey To China With Conveyance Along The Ems River
Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Cruise Line’s first custom-designed ship for the Chinese cruise market, began her journey to her home port of Shanghai, China this week, as she departed the MEYER WERFT shipyard in Papenburg, Germany on Sunday, March 26 for her approximately 14-hour long conveyance along the Ems River.

Norwegian Joy’s river conveyance marks another key milestone in the ship's highly anticipated delivery. Measuring 1,094 feet long and 136 feet wide, the ship is the second in the line’s Breakaway-Plus class and the first that was purpose-built for China.

for the Chinese cruise market, she will offer a First Class at Sea experience for our guests and we cannot wait to officially welcome her to the fleet this June.”

The 168,800–gross-ton Norwegian Joy departed MEYER WERFT at approximately 9:00 pm local time, making a narrow passage in reverse through the shipyard's locks, passing the structure with just 1.2 meters separating the ship from the "bumpers" installed along the locks. The ship’s navigation team, led by experienced yard captains and River Ems pilots, included several navigation officers in charge of overseeing the bow maneuvers and others overseeing the movement of the stern. Several local authorities and other partners were also involved in supporting this precise maneuver.

After passing through the sea lock in Papenburg, Norwegian Joy continued along the river, stern first. Due to the strong propulsion in the aft section of the vessel, traveling stern first helps with maneuverability, which is a key component when navigating the vessel through such narrow passages.

Before reaching her final destination in Eemshaven, Netherlands on Monday evening, March 27, Norwegian Joy passed through additional narrow passages including a railway Bridge in Weener; Jann-Berghaus Bridge in Leer and Ems-Barrier in Gandersum. Upon arrival in the Dutch port of Eemshaven, Norwegian Joy will take on additional provisions and further crew members, before heading toward the North Sea for sea trials later this month.

Following her delivery on April 27, Norwegian Joy sets sail for China, where she will be showcased through a grand inaugural port tour featuring one-day events at the ports of Qingdao, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong, as well as VIP partner cruises from Norwegian Joy’s home-ports of Shanghai and Tianjin. This unique showcase tour will give travel agents and valued partners across the region the special opportunity to experience all that Norwegian Joy has to offer leading up to the ship’s christening ceremony on June 27, led by her Godfather, iconic Mandopop artist Wang Leehom. The spectacular inaugural celebration in Shanghai will include an exclusive concert and overnight cruise for honored guests.

Carnival Corporation & plc Reports First Quarter Earnings
Carnival Corporation announced U.S. GAAP net income of $352 million, or $0.48 diluted EPS, for the first quarter of 2017 compared to U.S. GAAP net income for the first quarter of 2016 of $142 million, or $0.18 diluted EPS. First quarter 2017 adjusted net income of $279 million, or $0.38 adjusted EPS, compared to adjusted net income of $301 million, or $0.39 adjusted EPS, for the first quarter of 2016. Adjusted net income excludes unrealized gains and losses on fuel derivatives and other net charges, totaling $73 million in gains for the first quarter 2017 and $159 million of losses for the first quarter 2016. Revenues for the first quarter of 2017 of $3.8 billion were higher than the $3.7 billion in the prior year.

"Carnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted, "We are off to a good start delivering another quarter of operational improvement on top of a very strong first quarter last year. Our performance was driven by increased demand, particularly for our core Caribbean itineraries, leading to higher year-over-year ticket prices which enabled us to overcome the significant negative impact of both fuel and currency to exceed the high end of our guidance range."

Key information for the first quarter 2017 compared to the prior year:

• Gross revenue yields (revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") increased 0.1 percent. In constant currency, net revenue yields increased 3.8 percent for 1Q 2017, better than December guidance of up 1.5 to 2.5 percent.
• Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD increased 2.9 percent. In constant currency, net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 3.2 percent, compared to December guidance of up 1.5 to 2.5 percent, due to the timing of certain expenses.
• Changes in fuel prices (including realized fuel derivatives) and currency exchange rates decreased earnings by $0.13 per share.

Highlights during the first quarter included the January announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada of a potential breakthrough guest experience innovation the Ocean Platform -- featuring Ocean Medallion. The experience will debut on Princess Cruises' Regal Princess in November 2017 followed by additional Princess ships in 2018.

Fleet enhancement milestones included the official debut of Seabourn Cruises' newest ship, Seabourn Encore, with its naming ceremony in Singapore. International recording artist and world's best-selling soprano Sarah Brightman presided over the naming ceremony as godmother of the stunning new 600-guest ship. Additionally, Carnival said that it signed a memorandum of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to build two new cruise ships. The first is designated for Holland America Line to be delivered in 2021 with the second for Princess Cruises in 2022.

Also during the quarter, following the Corporation's historic sailings from the U.S. to Cuba through its Fathom brand, Carnival Cruise Line received approval to begin operating cruises to Cuba. Carnival Paradise will be the largest cruise ship to sail to Cuba from the U.S. when it begins calling in Havana in June 2017.

2017 Outlook

At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the remainder of 2017 are well ahead of the prior year at considerably higher prices. During the quarter, both booking volumes and pricing for the remainder of 2017 have been running ahead of last year.

Donald commented, "Wave season, our peak booking period, was strong leaving us well positioned with bookings at considerably higher prices and with less inventory remaining for sale in 2017 compared to the prior year, resulting in increased earnings guidance. We are clearly benefiting from our efforts to increase cruise consideration through guest experience innovations, creative marketing, and public relations programs. We are reaching consumers through multiple touch points and laying the foundation for continued earnings improvement and sustained double digit returns on invested capital."

Carnival said that it expects full year 2017 net revenue yields in constant currency to be up approximately 3 percent compared to the prior year, better than December guidance of up approximately 2.5 percent. Carnival said that it continues to expect full year net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD in constant currency to be up approximately 1 percent compared to the prior year. Changes in fuel prices (including realized fuel derivatives) and currency exchange rates compared to the prior year are expected to decrease earnings by $0.35 per share.

Taking the above factors into consideration, Carnival said that it expects full year 2017 adjusted earnings per share to be in the range of $3.50 to $3.70 compared to December guidance of $3.30 to $3.60 and 2016 adjusted earnings per share of $3.45.

Second Quarter 2017 Outlook

Second quarter constant currency net revenue yields are expected to be up approximately 2.5 to 3.5 percent compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD in constant currency for the second quarter of 2017 are expected to be higher by approximately 1.5 to 2.5 percent compared to the prior year. Changes in fuel prices (including realized fuel derivatives) and currency exchange rates compared to the prior year are expected to decrease earnings by $0.12 per share. Based on the above factors, Carnival said that it expects adjusted earnings per share for the second quarter 2017 to be in the range of $0.43 to $0.47 versus 2016 adjusted earnings per share of $0.49.

Princess Announces Largest Food & Beverage Innovation Ever to Take Place during a Drydock
When Caribbean Princess debuts from a two-week, multi-million-dollar renovation on April 6, Princess Cruises will have completed its largest food and beverage innovation to ever take place during a drydock and guests will delight in seven new onboard dining destinations.

"Fresh, regionally-inspired and family friendly offerings were the inspiration behind our largest food and beverage makeover ever," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "With updated décor and designs that offer a welcoming atmosphere, the seven new dining options aboard Caribbean Princess are sure to please any palate and delight the senses."

The new dining options aboard Caribbean Princess include:

World Fresh Marketplace – Replacing Horizon Court (deck 14), World Fresh Marketplace unveils a completely new look and improved layout, featuring freshly-made regional specialties and well-balanced food choices:

• Breakfast will include 24-hour cereal stations; a designer pancake station with "pancake of the day" stacks; unique hot cereal offerings such as shrimp & grits and polenta porridge.
• Lunch serves up signature hand-crafted sandwiches, regionally inspired dishes and soups, as well as carvery selections of specialty sausages, hams and roast meats.

Dinner selections include breakfast at night with omelets and chicken & waffles, family kitchen comfort foods and a kid-friendly PB&J bar. Night-time offerings will also include a live-action station with stir-fry and customized pasta, plus composed salad choices.

Two Casual Specialty Restaurants - Café Caribe (deck 14 aft) transforms into two new, casual evening specialty restaurants great for families with kids who want to enjoy a special meal in a nice, yet laid back setting. These options include:

• Planks BBQ – serving up family-style "Planks" of loaded ribs, beef, sausages and chicken plus all the fixings – fries, chili, coleslaw, charred toast and dill pickles. Dinner is served by wait staff for a cover charge of $12 per person. Complimentary buffet-style breakfast and lunch options include savory customizable breakfast bowls and signature soup, freshly tossed salads and fork & knife sandwiches.
• Steamers Seafood – offers east coast-style Steamers with regional flair including Black & Blue Mussels, Scallops & Sausage, Classic Clams, Shrimp and Sausage and Broiled Scallops, Shrimp and Crab-stuffed Flounder. Dinner is served by wait staff for a cover charge of $12 per person. A delectable lobster tail and King Crab legs can be added for $10.
• Complimentary buffet-style breakfast and lunch options include specialty egg dishes and ramen bowls with regionally-inspired broths.

Top-Deck Dining Venues – Four Princess top-deck outdoor dining offerings will be revitalized, renamed and enhanced, including: • Slice (formerly Pizzeria) – featuring west coast and east coast offerings, Princess guests will enjoy award-winning signature classic Neapolitan-style pizza. New menu items include Deep Dish Focaccia layered with marinara, meatballs and cheese, California Artisanal Toast including Cali-Avocado or Caprese, as well as Sliced Stromboli, an east coast take on an Italian calzone filled with deli meats and cheese.
• Coffee & Cones (formerly Scoops) – offering treats of gourmet ice-cream sandwiches, complimentary ice cream cones and now brewing specialty coffee on the top deck, serving New Grounds Crafted Coffee.
• The Mix (formerly Blackbeard's Bar) – the poolside bar will be updated and redesigned with vibrant colors (full designs will be completed by fall 2017).

In addition to the food and beverage innovations, Caribbean Princess will emerge from drydock with new offerings appealing to families, including Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Centers, upgraded Movies Under the Stars, Princess Luxury Bed and interconnecting staterooms, just in time for the upcoming Europe summer and fall Caribbean seasons. The cruise ship will also be wired for the Ocean Medallion launch that will be available for the 2018 summer Caribbean season.

Azamara Club Cruises Announces 2019 Voyages
Azamara Club Cruises, the boutique cruise line known for its premier destination-immersive voyages, today unveiled its 2019 itineraries to a record 250 ports of call, including 45 maiden ports, 69 countries, 94 overnight stays, and 145 late night stays. New offerings will include Azamara's first-ever sailings to Alaska, 9 Special Events Voyages and 9 Country Intensive Voyages.

"Our 2019 itineraries span the world with new ports and destinations such as Alaska and go deeper than ever before into local cultures with one-of-a-kind experiences that you can't find through local tour services. We are confident that our growing number of first-time and millennial cruisers, along with repeat customers, will find that the new itineraries offer the type of personalized and unique experiences they seek," said Larry Pimentel, President & CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. "With the new itineraries, we are continuing to build upon our Stay Longer, Experience More brand positioning, with more onshore opportunities that allow guests to connect with locals for enriching travel moments, both on land and at sea."

Introducing Alaska
Azamara is offering a variety of Alaska experiences through 11 dynamic voyages each spanning eight to 10 days between May and September of 2019. The line's new Alaska voyages will feature more time in port with many late night stays, allowing nighttime experiences in this amazing land of the Midnight Sun. Our itineraries will feature a combination of marquee ports, as well as unique and out-of-the-ordinary ports. Our complimentary AzAmazing Evenings events will feature localized and authentic experiences, and carefully curated optional shore excursions in small groups of 20 – 25 guests will bring Alaska to life for our guests. Intimate shore excursion highlights include:

• Haines off the Beaten Path – Meet Local: Take a scenic drive to Picture Point along the Chilkat River to visit the artists' enclave of Mud Bay with a special tour of Extreme Dreams Art Studio – a handcrafted timber-frame gallery filled with unique creations by select local artisans. Then, return to Haines for a guided visit to the quirky yet fascinating Hammer Museum.
• Icy Strait Point – Taste Local: In Alaska's wildest kitchen, guests can capture the essence of real Alaskan flavors with fresh seafood tasting in a rustic setting hosted by an Alaskan fisherman and an expert filleting demonstration.
• Juneau Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier – Adventure Local: A dynamic helicopter ride to the Mendenhall Glacier is followed by an exhilarating dog sledding journey with about 300 spirited Alaskan huskies.
• Skagway White Pass Legacy Club Luxury Railway Experience – View Local: Experience the dramatic beauty of Southeast Alaska in opulence while traveling aboard the White Pass & Yukon Route's luxurious Legacy Club Car, featuring your very own private guide.

Azamara's Land & Sea Experiences include pre- and post-voyage land programs of two to six nights, combining the cruise with land programs for a truly immersive experience. Curated Land & Sea Experiences include Untamed Alaska, Native Villages for an authentic and traditional community gathering, riverboat cruising, or an afternoon in a local dog handler kennel, learning about the famed Iditarod Dogsled race where guests can meet with some furry and friendly Alaskan Huskies.

More 2019 Voyage Highlights
The line's immersive itineraries feature longer stays and more overnights across destinations worldwide, including smaller ports that the ships are just the right size to visit, many of which larger ships can't, making it more convenient to experience many marquee destinations directly off the ships.

• Golf Local with Perry Golf: In partnership with Perry Golf, Azamara has eight new voyages for golf enthusiasts that include The British Open in Portrush, Northern Ireland and The Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
• Special Event Voyages: Azamara caters to niche travel interests with a handful of once-in-a-lifetime experiences worth celebrating with front row access to some of the biggest festivals and events around the world. Premier events include two Formula One races (the Monaco Grand Prix and Spanish Grand Prix), the Cannes Film Festival, a round-trip California Wine Cruise from Los Angeles and an Annular Solar Eclipse voyage through the Indian Ocean. The line will also be in Edinburgh for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo thought of by many as the "greatest show on earth", and on the Azamara Journey's 28-May-2019 voyage, guests will experience the 75th anniversary of D-Day, as well as the once every five years Rouen Festival featuring many of the world's largest and most beautiful tall ships.
• Country Intensive Voyages: Azamara is the first brand to launch Country Intensive Voyages which allow guests to experience a country in-depth, effortlessly and conveniently immersing themselves in the culture, places and things in a variety of destinations within the country. These itineraries consist of most – if not all – ports of call within the destination. Japan, one of the new intensive voyages, offers 13 ports in 15 days throughout a circumnavigation of the country allowing experiences in every part of the country. Other countries include New Zealand, Mexico, Norway, Spain, France, Italy, Croatia and Greece.
• 45 Maiden Ports of Call: 2019 will see Azamara sailing to a record 45 maiden ports of call including Aalborg, Denmark; Lorient, France; Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK; Boracay Island, Philippines; Stewart Island, New Zealand and many more.

Azamara's recently launched Cruise Global, Connect Local land programs offer an unprecedented variety of over one thousand new and existing intimate shore excursions. Custom experiences curated by Azamara's expert team accommodate every travel style whether it be an interest in experiencing local life behind the scenes (Cruise Global, Meet Local), food and wine (Cruise Global, Taste Local), guided historic tours (Cruise Global, View Local), enjoy exclusive, custom after-dinner experiences (Cruise Global, Nights Local), biking (Cruise Global, Bike Local) and much more. Opportunities to travel deeper are endless. Additionally, all guests experience complimentary, bespoke AzAmazing Evenings that provide true cultural immersion and local entertainment in places like a French chateaux, Caribbean gardens, Spanish forts, Russian ballet halls and Roman amphitheaters.

With a maximum of 25 guests per on-shore excursion, Azamara offers a more intimate connection, more local experience and more peace-of-mind. Every excursion is designed and delivered by locals who provide an authentic perspective and individual interaction and are trusted tour operators that provide the highest level of quality, service and convenience.

Azamara's Boutique Hotels at Sea were recently redesigned, and guests onboard the Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest receive warm, authentic and personal service and enjoy fine cuisine and boutique wines from around the world, as well as inclusive amenities, such as gratuities; complimentary bottled water, sodas, specialty coffee and teas, wines from around the world, international beers and select standard spirits in the ships' bars, lounges and restaurants; complimentary self-service laundry; English Butler service for suite guests; and shuttle transportation to city centers in ports, where available. The 690-guest ships deliver a true boutique hotel atmosphere with a contemporary design that is inspired by the destinations Azamara visits.

Viking Cruises Launches New Resident Historian Program
Viking Cruises today announced the rollout of its new onboard Viking Resident Historian program. Launching on Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky this month, a carefully selected faculty of historians will provide an enhanced level of enrichment for guests onboard all of Viking's ocean cruise ships. A new video on the Resident Historian program can be found on the Viking website.

Dr. Charles Doherty, Chief Viking Resident Historian The Viking Resident Historians will provide guests with a high-level historical and cultural education that is specific to their journey, offering a framework for understanding the major chapters in world history. They will also conduct seminar-style roundtables – smaller, more intimate forums for discussion with guests, where the Viking Resident Historian will examine in-depth subjects related to their own area of specialization and/or particular areas of interest of the guests.

"Our guests are explorers – they are curious travelers who want to learn," said Karine Hagen, Senior Vice President of Viking Cruises, who leads Viking's enrichment efforts. "Having a fundamental understanding of iconic historical events in the destinations our guests visit helps bring a deeper understanding of the present – and perhaps also a better perspective on the future."

The Viking Resident Historians have been engaged to provide a history course as a refresher, which is then supplemented by onboard Guest Lecturers who contribute their particular expertise (art, architecture, music, etc.) of the region. The responsibilities of Viking Resident Historians extend well beyond just lectures during each cruise itinerary and include:

• Presenting itinerary iconic lectures (examples in Europe and Scandinavia include: The Roman Empire; The Ottoman Empire; The Hanseatic League; Imperial Russia) Conducting roundtable discussions (examples include: The Elgin Marbles; Women Explorers; Venetian Naval Power)
• Hosting history-themed dinner discussions onboard
• Holding daily "office hours" for one-on-one time with guests
• Being available for guest questions and interactions outside lectures and office hours throughout the itinerary

The Viking Resident Historian lectures are exclusively produced by Viking, under the tutelage of Dr. Charles Doherty, Chief Viking Resident Historian. The lectures are standardized as a core curriculum to guarantee consistency throughout the fleet, regardless of which Viking Resident Historian is lecturing. As with other onboard lectures, the Viking Resident Historian series will be presented in The Theater – and each will also be filmed and made available for guests on the in-room entertainment system. Additionally, the series is currently being professionally filmed in-studio, and in early 2018 will be available in its entirety on-demand through the in-room entertainment system on all Viking river and ocean ships. Charles Doherty, PhD, has lectured in more than 60 countries for The National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Doherty received his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and attended the Courtauld Institute in London as a Fulbright Scholar.

The first three Viking Resident Historians that will be featured onboard Viking's three ocean cruise ships this spring are:

• Dr. Mark Callaghan holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of London, an M.A. in Art History from Oxford University and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Manchester. Dr. Callaghan is a specialist in 20th century European art and culture and will serve as the Viking Resident Historian on Viking Sky on sailings of Empires of the Mediterranean this spring.
• Lt. Colonel Tony Coutts-Britton is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst and served with the British Army in Europe and Asia – and later with NATO in the Partnership for Peace program. Lt. Col. Coutts-Britton lectures on the social and political aspects of European military history and will serve as the Viking Resident Historian on Viking Sea on sailings of Empires of the Mediterranean this spring.
• Dr. Fenella Bazin holds a Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool, is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and is a Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool's Center for Manx Studies. Dr. Bazin is a specialist in the Age of the Vikings and modern Norway and will serve as the Viking Resident Historian on Viking Star on sailings of Empires of the Mediterranean this spring.

Princess Cruises to Add Guest Experience Platform to Two More Cruise Ships
As a new era of cruise personalization and game-changing guest service nears, Carnival Corporation & plc's (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) international premium brand, Princess Cruises, will soon prepare two more vessels with the world's first interactive guest experience platform as the Caribbean Princess and Regal Princess transition into Medallion Class ships during dry docks taking place over the next six weeks.

Carnival Corporation Introduces Ocean MedallionCarnival Corporation's proprietary xIoT network, which is enabled by the Ocean Medallion™, will be installed on the Caribbean Princess during an extensive two-week dry dock in Freeport, Bahamas, March 26-April 6, followed by a dry dock of sister ship Regal Princess April 14-30 in Hamburg, Germany.

During the upgrades, work teams will run roughly 75 miles of cable, install almost 7,000 sensors, 650 experience-edge computing devices and 1,780 in-cabin Wi-Fi access points on each ship.

In addition, a total of 4,030 additional guest portals – in the form of stateroom door access panels, interactive touch-screen TVs and public area displays – will be added throughout each ship, allowing guests to easily access their own personal digital concierge featuring an endless number of guest experiences customized uniquely for them.

Medallion Class vacations debut in November aboard the Regal Princess at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, followed in spring 2018 by the Caribbean Princess. The Royal Princess, which underwent its transition during its dry dock last fall in Paloma, Italy, will make its first Medallion Class voyage in January 2018.

Announced at CES 2017 in January, the Ocean Medallion goes well beyond the growing number of wearables used by theme parks and other vacation companies by leaving behind the required action of "tap" and ushering in a new paradigm for guest interactions.

Medallion Class will make cruising more personal, immersive, simple and seamless than previously considered possible. At the heart of this personalized experience is the Ocean Medallion, which enables endless vacation possibilities. The Ocean Medallion has no discernible technology – no on-off switch, no charging, no menu to navigate – and can be worn as a pendant, on a wristband, in a clip or simply placed in a pocket to reveal enhanced services and personalized experiences without guests having to push a button or take any action. The pre-cruise engagement will allow guests to provide preferences that detail their wants, needs and desires so that their onboard experience can be personalized.

Pairing with the Ocean Medallion is the Ocean Compass™ – a personal digital concierge accessible by all guests using interactive displays throughout the ship, on stateroom TVs, via guests' own smart devices or through a crew member. For example, guests can find their way to venues around the ship; make reservations at the Lotus Spa, specialty dining restaurants and shore excursions; arrange celebrations; view photographs; learn about the destinations they will visit and activities at each port of call and more. The Ocean Compass will invite guests to experiences based on their individual needs, wants and desires.

Some of the initial service innovations include:

• Ocean Ready™: Expedites embarkation as required information is added to the guest profile at home.

• Stateroom Access: The Ocean Medallion will unlock a guest's stateroom door – replacing the key card.

• HERE & NOW™: Guests can place food and beverage orders and have them delivered to select locations.

• THERE & THEN™: Guests can place select food and beverage orders and have them delivered to where they plan to be at a designated time.

• Ocean Navigate: Accessed through the Ocean Compass, guests can learn the whereabouts of their family as they enjoy activities throughout the ship and be guided seamlessly in finding their way around the ship. Friends and family will also be able to easily communicate with each other through a seamless messaging service.

Looking for Some Good Laughs? Take a Cruise Vacation as Cruise Lines are World's Largest Providers of Live Comedy
As experienced cruisers know and first-timers quickly discover, there is something to laugh out loud about on the high seas. Some of the top stand-up comedians in the world come on board cruise ships to entertain.

Catch a comedy act on Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, British line P&O Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia or the three oceanliners of Cunard and you may recognize a comedian you've seen on TV or at a comedy club. Bonus: The shipboard shows are free.

Carnival Cruise Line alone hosts 24,000 performances a year by comics in intimate Punchliner Comedy Clubs on its 25 ships – making the cruise line the largest provider of live comedy in the world.

"Laughter is a universal language and our guests really love to get together and laugh," says Chris Nelson, director of entertainment for Carnival Cruise Line. "Visiting a comedy club is a popular entertainment option on board."

Every sailing has two to four comics performing as many as five shows a day. There are shows suitable for the family crowd as well as late-night adult performances (for age 18 and up) that are often hilariously racy. A comedy club manager introduces the comedians as waiters snake through the crowd with drinks.

Princess Cruises, soon to have 18 ships (the new Majestic Princess debuts in April), features about 250 comedians on its roster of headline performers. Robbie Printz, a fixture on the Boston comedy scene and a Princess Cruises headliner since 2004, was just named by passengers as the line's Entertainer of the Year – a tribute akin to winning a People's Choice Award at sea.

Comedians on Princess Cruises ships perform in the main theater as well as late-night in a lounge, and all the acts are family friendly, says Phil Kaler, the line's manager of guest entertainers. "What we look for are comics whose acts are contemporary without the need for profanity."

Printz's high-energy observational comedy often focuses on his young family. Example: "My wife is always on and off a diet and I never know her size. She's a 2, she's a 6, she's an 8, she's a 4, she's a 10…" He is booked to do 23 weeks on Princess Cruises ships this year. Like other comedians, he flies in for a few days, and may even perform on two ships in a week. Printz says it's a great gig.

"They pay well and they treat you well," he says. "You get to enjoy lots of great food, all for free. Also, I like the theater atmosphere, with professional sound and lighting. It's great compared to doing a bar room in Boston or Cleveland."

Travel is an added benefit. Printz's favorite ports include those in Alaska as well as Cozumel, Mexico.

In addition to offering regular employment, cruise ships are also a great place to hone your act, says Tommy Drake, a regular on Carnival Cruise Line.

"At the Punchliner Comedy Clubs, comics have the wonderful opportunity of doing multiple sets for the same crowd," Drake says. "By your last performance most of the audience has already seen you before and has made the choice to come back and see you again, so you can get away with more interesting material."

Caroline Picard, who has been performing on Carnival Cruise Line ships for four years, says she likes the fact that cruise ship crowds are some of the most diverse you'll find anywhere.

Comedians are accommodated in cabins with a view and enjoy guest privileges. You may run into your favorite performer at the pool or in the fitness center. Mingling with the crowd and being "famous" on the ship is part of the fun.

"It's great, I love meeting with passengers, taking pictures with them, and getting to know where they are from," Picard says. "The guests love meeting us, and I feel it's part of the experience to give them some of my time."

Some passengers enjoy the onboard comedy performances so much they start following the comics when they do gigs on land too, says Al Ernst, who has performed on Carnival Cruise Line ships for 24 years. He says he's made many friends on cruise ships.

Comedians get frequent positive mention when cruisers talk about their cruise vacations on social media and also get high marks in passenger surveys.

"It's an escape. Who doesn't like to laugh?" says Princess Cruises' Kaler.

The cruise lines focus on finding the right performers. In addition to working with talent agencies and checking out performances in comedy clubs and at festivals, Carnival Cruise Line welcomes tapes from seasoned comedians at www.carnivalentertainment.com.

Jokes about politics are typically verboten at sea as are cheesy cruise ship jokes. Since not all comedy translates universally, stand-up comics may be hired based on the passenger contingent and itinerary – you will find more Australian and New Zealand comics in the Pacific, more U.S. and Canadian comics on ships that cater to a North American crowd. When the audience is international and speaks multiple languages, the cruise lines may go more for visual acts, such as comedy magicians.

On the eight ships of British line P&O Cruises, stand-up comedy is a fundamental part of the entertainment program and takes a British stance.

"What our passengers like is slightly different than the Americans," says Paul Wright, director of entertainment for Carnival UK, which includes P&O Cruises and Cunard. "The Brits like comedy that reminds them of who they are and what they're doing and where they are from. It's very British-centric."

Wright estimates that about half the comedians who are regulars at British comedy clubs on land also do gigs on the P&O Cruises ships – as many as 150 comics on the cruise line's entertainment roster at any one time. The comics may be recognizable to guests from their appearances on British TV and on game shows.

"We expect them to be at the top of their game," Wright says. "We are cherry-picking the best comedians we can find."

On P&O Cruises ships, the comics do headline sets in front of a crowd of about 1,000 in the main theaters as well as late-night sets in bars where they are able to be "a little more cheeky," Wright says.

"The Brits like to enjoy something together. It's that joy of communal laughter," Wright says, adding that seeing comedians also brings bragging rights. "People like to get home from their cruise vacation and tell the gags they've heard the comic tell onboard. It's a bit of social currency."

Australians love a good laugh, and P&O Cruises Australia serves up comedy in partnership with the well-known Brisbane-based Sit Down Comedy Club. Top-flight stand-up comics perform in bars on each of the line's six ships.

For those looking for an immersive comedy experience, P&O Cruises Australia also hosts several Comedy Cruises each year. These themed sailings feature five or six comics doing shows, plus activities such as comedy workshops where guests can learn tricks of the trade and a Comedy Gong Show where passengers of all ages can test their comedic talents.

Comedy is also part of the entertainment lineup on the venerable Cunard line, where international comedians are featured as headliners in the Royal Court Theatre, performing slapstick, observational humor or visual comedy.

In addition to its complimentary line-up, Carnival Cruise Line also hosts superstar performers such as Jay Leno and Jeff Foxworthy as part of its Carnival LIVE concert series in select ports (tickets required).

Top Princess Cruises entertainer Printz says he often hears from guests that comedy has enhanced their cruise experience.

"People say to me after a show, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time," Printz says, adding with a laugh: "And I tell them, well, you need to get out more!"

Royal Caribbean Wants to Give a Team of Thrill Seekers a Trip Around the World
Royal Caribbean is on the lookout for the "World's Most Adventurous Squad." The #AdventureSquad social media contest will challenge explorers and aspiring Instagram stars to act on their wanderlust and prove that their adventurousness is off the charts. In the end, one group of up to four friends will be crowned as the "World's Most Adventurous Squad," and win trips anywhere Royal Caribbean sails to help live up to their newly minted title.

Those looking for a shot at social stardom and global adventure can enter by participating in any one of five adventure-themed Instagram challenges. From highlighting hidden gems in their travels to showcasing their most epic eats, each challenge will give participants the opportunity to share their most impressive photos for a chance to win. Each challenge will run for 72 hours on Royal Caribbean's Instagram account starting on March 29 and through April 12. To take part in the challenge, adventurers simply post their photo to Instagram, tag three friends that will comprise their squad and use the hashtag #AdventureSquad and #Contest.

Upon completion of each challenge, Royal Caribbean will select one winning squad – based on their creativity and spirit of adventure in line with the theme of the day. The winners will then set sail on the adventure of a lifetime onboard Harmony of the Seas, the world's largest and most adventurous ship taking over Royal Caribbean's social media channels as they go. The finalists will go head-to-head to capture and share adrenaline-pumping content both from the ship and exotic destinations, including Labadee, Haiti, Royal Caribbean's private destination; Falmouth, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico. At the end of their adventure, the squad that most embodies the spirit of adventure will be named the "World's Most Adventurous Squad" and win trips anywhere Royal Caribbean sails. In addition, squads' adventures also will be seen when they light up Royal Caribbean's digital billboards in New York City in May.

Australian travel blogger Tyson Mayr (@tysontravel) will act as the contest host, announcing each 48-hour Instagram challenge. Mayr is no stranger to social media contests; he won one himself in 2014 and was paid to travel the globe for a year. Since then, he's made a living as an adventurer and content creator, proving that Internet fame is within reach for social media contest winners.

Those back at home can watch the action unfold by following @RoyalCaribbean and #AdventureSquad on Instagram and Snapchat. For details on how to take part in the Adventure Squad challenge, as well as information on the winning squad, visit www.AdventureSquad.com.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 58.87 + +1.92%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 99.28 + 1.40%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.35 - 4.47%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 51.02 - 0.16%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the largest passenger ship to ever fly the U.S. flag as her registry and ownership?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Two steamship companies, one still in business and mighty powerful, were named P&O. The "P" for both companies stands for "peninsular". What does the "O" stand for in each name? (The "O" is for a different word for each.)

Answer - The company still in business is Peninsular & Oriental. The other line was Peninsular & Occidental, whose principals chose to name their line in honor of the older firm. Peninsular & Occidental operated the FLORIDA, CUBA and SOUTHERN CROSS during the 30's, 40's and 50's in a service from Florida to Cuba
courtesy of James Brice, Washington DC


Cruise News - March 20, 2017

A New Category In Small-Ship Travel Is Born
Newcomer Masala Expeditions isn't wasting any time. Born of its success in small-ship cruising around the island of Cuba, today Masala Expeditions launched six small-ship cruises with ports of call in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean. The trips feature a new way to experience a destination: through its people. Masala Expeditions took a note from parent company, insightCuba, and expanded its highly acclaimed people-to-people style of travel beyond Cuba's borders.

People-to-people travel offers an extraordinary way to experience a destination, going beyond tourist activities and interacting with local people and their culture in new and exciting ways. "For 17 years, we've seen how this type of travel moves people," says Masala Expeditions President Tom Popper. "They never look at travel the same way again."

Thanks to a U.S. regulation allowing Americans to visit Cuba, Popper was able to share his enthusiasm for finding people and places most visitors don't see, and bring those intimate and touching experiences to others. "Everything you read about the travel industry points to the fact that people are looking for more personally special, more meaningful travel. This is it!" he says.

Masala Expeditions' six small-ship cruises offer guests an intimate cruise experience along with people-to-people excursions. The small size of the ships fosters a community atmosphere on board and on land. Smaller vessels allow easy access to ports larger cruise ships can't reach, which provides opportunities to create fresh itineraries. Masala Expeditions' largest ship, the M/Y Voyager has just 36 cabins, making the on-board experience crowd-free, intimate, and friendly, affording personal service from the captain and crew. Guests will likely encounter the same people often—a benefit when it comes to making friends while traveling.

Sail the Greek Isles 10-day tour offers guests on the ultimate Greece experience. The journey begins in the heart of this ancient country, Athens. Guests will stroll the Acropolis and the historic Plaka neighborhood, and take a scenic drive through the city with an expert guide who will set the story for the next seven days on board the M/S Galileo. During the seven-day cruise, guests will also call in Poliegos, Folegandros, Santorini, Paros, Mykonos, Syros and more to discover picturesque villages, archeological sightings, and whitewashed streets that make up this stunning country.

Cruise Dubai and Seychelles 11-day tour starts in the stunningly modern city of Dubai where guests can explore the city's massive malls, indoor theme parks, underwater zoo and spend an afternoon on a desert safari, which includes an Arabic-style buffet, camel rides and more. Then guests will catch an early flight to the Seychelles where they'll sail around the tranquil island chain for the next eight days on a luxurious yacht and enjoy bird watching, beach barbecues, snorkeling, swimming, and views of the turquoise blue Indian Ocean.

Safari in Kenya and Cruise Seychelles 10-day tour is a rare opportunity to explore two sides of the African continent. Highlights of the trip include traveling through Kenya's fertile highlands, visiting the Maasai Mara National Reserve and engaging with the Maasai people, exploring the Rift Valley and tours in Kenya's bustling capital of Nairobi. The journey continues in the Seychelles where guests fly to St Anne Island before traveling to Curieuse to see giant tortoises, sail to the white shores of Cousin Island and snorkel and swim among tropical fish and sea turtles. The journey includes high-end, luxury accommodations in Kenya and staterooms on the M/Y Pegasus in the Seychelles.

Sail Spain and Portugal 10-day tour offers guests to see iconic sights such as the Cathedral of Grenada, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Alhambra and the Genralife Gardens. The cruise portion sets sail in Malaga and calls in Motril, Granada, Gibraltar, Seville and more before sailing to Portugal. The ship calls in Portimao, where you will go on to visit Silves and Monchique before docking for a day in Lisbon. Other trip highlights include seeing magnificent views over the Straits of Gibraltar and visiting the Cathedral of St. Mary in Seville, the world's largest gothic cathedral.

Cruise Iceland 8-day tour starts with a full day excursion in Iceland's capital city Reykjavik before embarking on the elegant M/Y Callisto to continue exploring the country's natural wonders. Guests will discover a fascinating country with amazing rugged landscapes full of old legacies of Vikings and the Norse. Discover Heimaey Island, the Pompei of the North, Lake Myvatn, the Namarskard a striking geothermal field, and the Godafoss Waterfall. Journey through the quaint fishing village of Husavik, and visit Siglufjordur a fishing town close to the Arctic Circle.

Sail the Dalmatian Coast 14-day tour begins with seven days touring Croatia's major cities before embarking on a cruise and making your way along the Dalmatian Coast. Begin in Zagreb before heading to Opatija, with a stop in Karlovac's old town, dating back to the Ottoman Empire. After seeing the restored medieval city in Dubrovnik, guests will embark on a cruise along the coast and Croatian islands such as Korcula, Hvar and the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro.

Princess Cruises Announces Multi-Million Dollar Caribbean Princess Renovation
Caribbean Princess will undergo an extensive two-week drydock in Freeport, Bahamas, March 26-April 6. She will emerge from a multi-million dollar renovation with new offerings appealing to families, including Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center, upgraded Movies Under the Stars, Princess Luxury Bed and interconnecting staterooms, just in time for the upcoming Europe summer and fall Caribbean seasons. The cruise ship will also be wired for the Ocean Medallion launch that will be available for the 2018 summer Caribbean season.

"With new amenities catering to families, Caribbean Princess not only provides comfort and technology to stay connected but enriching experiences that can be shared together as a family or in our new Camp Discovery Youth & Teen Center – all renovated with the goal of helping our guests create lifelong memories," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises.

New Caribbean Princess family-friendly features include:

Camp Discovery
For cruisers ages 3-17, Caribbean Princess will now offer a reimagined youth center – Camp Discovery – created in partnership with Discovery Consumer Products, the licensing arm of Discovery Communications, as part of the cruise line's Discovery at Sea program. Catering to specific age groups, there are three center themes where kids and teens can make new friends and participate in activities specially designed to help them Discover, Play, Create and Huddle, including:

• The Treehouse, ages 3-7 (formerly Pelicans): A bright, whimsical forest and animal-themed center including captivating creatures and hands-on activities for kids to focus on play time, creativity and the world around them.
• The Lodge, ages 8-12 (formerly Shockwaves): Inspired by the great outdoors, this cozy center is filled with sports activities and fun places for kids to explore, hang out and lounge.
• The Beach House, for ages 13-17 (formerly Remix) offers a contemporary surf-themed lounge, featuring a cool place for teens to hang out and socialize.

New youth and teen center programming includes MythBusters science activities with new hands-on challenges, featuring show star, Tory Belleci. In addition, new Camp Discovery destination-themed programs focus on Europe and the Caribbean to immerse young cruisers into the culture, nature and customs of this region.

With family travelers in mind, Caribbean Princess debuts 87 interconnecting staterooms, offering more room and comfort for all family members to enjoy.

A new HD Movies Under the Stars outdoor movie screen will offer a higher resolution picture with double the image quality of previous systems. Guests will enjoy lively concerts and hit blockbuster movies with more sound power, truer color, extreme wide angle viewing and smart contrast/brightness for optimal viewing any time of day.

Everyone can delight in the ultimate sleep at sea in the Princess Luxury Bed, as Caribbean Princess will receive 3,200 new beds and luxurious linens. Developed in collaboration with board-certified sleep expert, Dr. Michael Breus and renowned HGTV designer Candice Olson, the bed combines the science of sleep with the pinnacle of design.

In addition, Caribbean Princess offers Club Class Mini-Suites, the new premium stateroom category featuring VIP amenities and exclusive dining. This elevated mini-suite category features select perks including new Club Class Dining, a reserved dining area with expedited seating and expanded menu options as well as priority embarkation and disembarkation.

The newly renovated Caribbean Princess will start her Europe season with a Transatlantic sailing on April 6th, continuing throughout the summer in the British Isles. Guests can visit iconic Edinburgh to delightful Dublin to the wonders of Paris, and marvel at the natural splendors of Iceland and the remote lands of the North Cape at the top of the world.

She will then to the Panama Canal in October, transiting the new Agua Clara locks, spending the holiday season in the Caribbean.

Additionally, for the first time in four years, Princess Cruises offers Summer Caribbean cruises, including Panama Canal transits in 2018. The Caribbean Princess returns to sail on a full summer season of voyages ranging from seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean to a 20-day Caribbean and Panama Canal Explorer.

The 2018 April to October summer program features 47 departures, roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, including eight unique itineraries visiting 23 destinations in 22 countries. In addition, four ports offer late night stays so guests have more time to explore the evening offerings these destinations have to offer.

MSC Cruises Elevates Dining At Sea With Greater Flexibility
MSC Cruises revealed today new dining concepts that will be available first to guests on MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside. Designed to meet the needs of today's cruise guests, the two ships — the first two of a total of 11 new mega-ships due to come into service starting this year, in June and December, respectively — will introduce highly flexible dining options and a choice of dining packages that can be booked at any time prior to embarkation and while on board. With greater flexibility, MSC Cruises guests can dine as they want, when they want, in an even wider range of specialty restaurants and international dining venues.

"At MSC Cruises, we strive to create memorable vacation experiences for our guests while on board our cruise ships, and internationally inspired dining is a key feature of our offering," said Andrea Gangale, MSC Cruises' Head of Product Development and Guest Experience

"We continue to drive innovation in cruising at many levels, which now also includes our onboard dining experience. The new dining concepts cater to the needs of today's cruise guests, who are looking for more flexibility and choices," continued Gangale. "Starting with MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside, guests will be able to manage their choices, through cutting-edge onboard technology, and experience an even greater selection of international restaurants which will deliver culinary experiences from around the world."

One of the new dining concepts that MSC Cruises is introducing is Flexi Dining1. This new dining style allows guests to pre-select a time slot for their evening meal, with the ability to change it at any time during their cruise. This way guests can get the most out of their vacation by easily scheduling their dining around their plans for each day.

The Classic2 cruise dining experience will still be available, with a choice of two seatings each evening. This traditional dining style is popular with guests who prefer a dedicated table each night so that they can enjoy personalized service from the same waiter who will know their names, dining preferences and how to accommodate them. This way, they can also socialize with the same guests each evening.

In addition, MSC Yacht Club guests will continue to benefit from free-time dining in the dedicated MSC Yacht Club restaurant, with the option of reserving a table in advance.

Casual dining venues are available for all guests 20 hours-a-day, offering a wide range of freshly prepared dishes. The MSC Cruises buffet – already one of the richest at sea -- has been further enhanced with a wide range of different international dishes suited to any taste. MSC Seaside, in particular, will feature two casual dining venues, one of which will be dedicated to families, serving family-friendly options and featuring child-friendly seatings.

Specialty restaurants are a standout feature on MSC Cruises' ships, offering guests the opportunity to experience quality cuisines from around the world even while at sea. The cruise line's new cruise ships launching in 2017 — MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside — will feature restaurants with innovative 'open kitchens,' following the trend in restaurant design and creating a sensory experience that allows guests to see, smell and hear expert chefs at work. Selected restaurants on MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside will also feature a Chef's Table, a dining concept designed for those seeking a true gastronomic experience.

Following the success of Kaito Sushi Bar, hailed as "The Best Sushi at Sea,"3 serving fresh fish, sashimi and tempura, MSC Cruises will introduce the new Kaito Teppanyaki restaurant on board MSC Meraviglia to complement the ship's Kaito Sushi Bar. With a modern twist on Asian cuisine, guests can sit at the cooking stations and watch authentic Japanese dishes come to life in front of their eyes. Expert chefs will cook with flare on an open grill — a visual spectacle with flames and sizzling ingredients coming together to form flavorful dishes.

Another new restaurant concept — featured on MSC Meraviglia as well as MSC Seaside – will be an authentic American Steakhouse — Butcher's Cut — celebrating the craft heritage of America blended with the skilful mastery of the butcher. Guests can select their favorite steak from glass-fronted meat aging fridges and then watch the skilled chefs preparing their selections in the open kitchen. The bar will feature a bold wine list with selections from the New World, cocktails inspired by American heritage, and an assortment of craft beers.

A highlight of the dining on MSC Seaside will also be the Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi. The three distinct eateries created by the innovative Japanese-American chef will include: an à la carte restaurant serving gourmet Asian creations in a stylish venue with incredible sea views; a Sushi Bar; and an area with Teppanyaki Grills – each area offering authentic pan-Asian dining experiences at sea.

MSC Seaside will also feature the signature seafood restaurant, Ocean Cay. This stylish restaurant will serve American-style fish dishes with a Mediterranean twist. A simple menu with delicious signature dishes will include locally-sourced Stone Crabs, a delicacy in the homeport of Miami, beautiful fresh Sea Bass, flown in from the Mediterranean, and homemade spaghetti alle vongole (with clams).

MSC Cruises is committed to partnering with world-class experts in their fields and the dining experience on the new cruise ships is no exception. The collaboration with world-renowned chef Roy Yamaguchi on MSC Seaside extends beyond the creation of the menus. As part of the partnership, Chef Yamaguchi is personally involved in conceptualizing and designing every element of the new pan-Asian restaurant, including creating the recipes and menus, selecting chinaware, choosing music to create the right ambience, and designing wine pairings to complement the food.

A long-standing partnership with two-star Michelin chef Carlo Cracco will now encompass the development of signature dishes for the main restaurant menus on MSC Meraviglia as well as for the Christmas and New Year menus. Also onboard MSC Meraviglia, a partnership with award-winning French chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury will include Jean-Philippe Chocolat & Café, an open chocolate atelier, and Jean-Philippe Crêpes & Gelato, which will serve sweet treats in the ship's Mediterranean-style promenade.

The chef collaborations extend beyond the new ships as part of MSC Cruises' focus on international fine dining. For example, MSC Cruises is collaborating with international Chinese chef, Jereme Leung. Globally recognized for his contemporary interpretation of Chinese cuisine, Chef Leung's modern approach has long caught the attention of top international restaurant critics, and he has brought his contemporary Chinese cuisine to MSC Lirica. In partnership with MSC Cruises, Chef Leung designed new and innovative dining concepts tailored to the tastes of Chinese guests, enhancing existing menus with creative flair and developing new exclusive signature dishes.

To help guests better plan their onboard dining experiences and make the most of their time on board, MSC Cruises is introducing a range of dining packages that can be booked prior to the cruise. For example:

• Guests on board MSC Meraviglia will be able to book a Dinner & Show package where they will enjoy an exclusive table d'hôte menu and then experience the breathtaking Cirque du Soleil at Sea performance in the impressive purpose-built Carousel Lounge.
• A special dining package is available for the Eataly Chef's Table on board MSC Meraviglia, which includes a dedicated chef and sommelier for the night, seven gourmet dishes cooked to perfection and all perfectly matched with seven wines.
• For guests looking to explore a variety of specialty restaurants, special discounted packages can be pre-booked before the sailing.

Royal Caribbean Announces 2018-2019 Caribbean, Alaska and Northeast Itineraries
Royal Caribbean has unveiled its strongest lineup yet of North American itineraries in 2018-19, with the addition of a fourth Oasis Class ship, named Symphony of the Seas, a brand new terminal at PortMiami, and a diverse array of adventure-packed ships sailing from South Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast. Guests of all ages can experience the exotic islands of the Caribbean, breathtaking Alaskan expeditions, and picturesque coastal treasures of Canada and New England.

After spending her inaugural summer season sailing to the historic cities of the Mediterranean, Symphony of the Seas will unite with her three Oasis-Class sisters stateside, arriving to Royal Caribbean's brand new Terminal A at PortMiami. Beginning November 17, she will sail seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, adding Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis to other marquee Oasis-Class ports of call.

Alaskan Expeditions

• Explorer of the Seas will continue to sail to the new frontier with seven-night itineraries departing from Seattle, Washington with ports of call in Victoria, British Columbia, Juneau, Alaska and the Inside Passage, showcasing its jaw-dropping scenery and diverse wildlife.
• Radiance of the Seas will sail seven- and nine-night open-jaw itineraries between Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia, uncovering the myriad of Alaskan adventures.

South Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico Offer Year-Round Caribbean Adventures

• Allure of the Seas will reposition from Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale to PortMiami for the winter season, where she will continue to offer seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
• Harmony of the Seas will continue to sail year-round seven-night Caribbean itineraries from Port Everglades Cruise Port in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, switching from Saturday to Sunday departures for the winter.
• Oasis of the Seas will continue year-round seven-night itineraries from Port Canaveral, east of Orlando, Florida to the Caribbean, while Majesty of the Seas will offer three- and four-night getaways to The Bahamas.
• Liberty of the Seas will continue her year-round deployment from the Port of Galveston in Texas, offering seven-night Mexico and Western Caribbean itineraries.
• Enchantment of the Seas will sail three- and four-night getaways to The Bahamas, year-round from PortMiami.

Northeast U.S. and Seasonal Caribbean Escapes

• Quantum-Class Anthem of the Seas will continue year-round itineraries from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey sailing a diverse series of five- to 12-night itineraries to Bermuda and the Caribbean and seven-night itineraries to The Bahamas. For the fall season, Anthem of the Seas will offer nine-night itineraries to Canada and New England.
• The newly revitalized Adventure of the Seas will call the Northeast "home" for the first time since her debut, sailing a variety of seven-night itineraries from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey to The Bahamas and New England & Canada throughout the summer season. In the fall 2018, the ship will feature three open-jaw 10- and 11-night Fall Foliage sailings to Quebec, Canada. Adventure of the Seas will reposition to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale for the winter season, offering six- and eight-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
• Grandeur of the Seas will continue to offer a variety of destinations and experiences for guests sailing from Baltimore, including nine-night itineraries to The Bahamas and 12-night itineraries to the Southern Caribbean in the winter; and nine-night journeys to Canada and New England and five-night getaways to Bermuda's pink sand beaches in the summer.
• Vision of the Seas will join Liberty of the Seas in Galveston, Texas for the winter season offering shorter four- and five-night Western Caribbean getaways.
• Rhapsody of the Seas will sail round-trip seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries out of Tampa, Florida during the winter season.
• Jewel of the Seas will make San Juan, Puerto Rico her homeport for the winter season, sailing seven-night Southern Caribbean itineraries.
• Brilliance of the Seas will sail from Tampa in the winter, alternating four- and five-night itineraries to the Western Caribbean.
• Serenade of the Seas will homeport in Boston for September and October, offering seven-night itineraries to Canada and New England and seven-night itineraries to Bermuda. She will then reposition to Ft. Lauderdale for longer winter vacations sailing the majestic waters of the Southern and Eastern Caribbean on 10- and 11-night itineraries.
• Navigator of the Seas will sail five- and nine-night Southern and Western Caribbean itineraries from PortMiami throughout the winter season.
• Independence of the Seas will make her way to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida offering four- and five-night itineraries to the Western Caribbean throughout the winter. Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 57.76 + 0.96%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 97.25 + 0.68%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.46 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 51.10 + 0.00%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Two steamship companies, one still in business and mighty powerful, were named P&O. The "P" for both companies stands for "peninsular". What does the "O" stand for in each name? (The "O" is for a different word for each.)

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the first cruise/passenger ship to have a "magrodome" (the automatic glass or plexiglass covering over the pool area)?

Answer - The Oceanic of Home Lines was the first ship with a Magradome.
courtesy of James Tagliani


Cruise News - March 13, 2017

Celebrity Cruises Reveals Celebrity Edge
Stunning design and breakthrough staterooms set a new standard for modern luxury travel

Perched on the starboard side of the ship and the size of a tennis court, the Magic Carpet is the world’s first cantilevered venue that travels 13 stories.Today, Celebrity Cruises delivers a first look at the transformational Celebrity Edge, whose dramatically expanded staterooms, ship-climbing Magic Carpet platform and stunning suites set a new standard for ship design.

Designed completely in 3-D, and featuring the work of A-list global architects and designers, the 2,918-guest Celebrity Edge aims to make discerning global travelers redefine how they experience the world and how intimate a vacation can be.

“Celebrity Edge is one of the most exciting, innovative and transformational ships I have ever been involved with," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “The new features and refined design will establish a new baseline for ships from here on out."

“Our guests don't want to just skim the world like a magazine – they want to feel a human connection with it," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "Every element of Celebrity Edge is meant to make that connection intense and unforgettable. Our new class of ship will allow guests to experience their journeys with the uniqueness and sophistication that marks the rest of their lives.”

Celebrity made the most of its first new ship class in 10 years, bringing in a design and architectural dream team from around the globe to push the boundaries of ship design and to evolve luxury travel at sea, including internationally renowned interior designer Kelly Hoppen MBE of Kelly Hoppen Interiors and visionary architect Tom Wright of WKK. American designer Nate Berkus serves as Celebrity Edge's design ambassador. Together with other designers whose work will be revealed later, the team arrived at designs that are fresh, exciting, current and comfortable – the essence of Celebrity's Modern Luxury style.

Revolutionary staterooms erase the boundaries between the traditional ship stateroom and its veranda, creating a closer connection to the ocean. The new Edge Stateroom with Infinite Veranda turns guest quarters into a seamless space, from the room's door all the way to the water’s edge. The simple touch of a button gives guests open-air access to the sea, bringing the outside in and the inside out. With the touch of another button, guests can take complete control of their stateroom and personalize everything from lighting, shades, temperature and service – even choosing a setting to tuck them in or gently wake them.

The design adds 23 percent more square footage and 10 percent larger bathrooms than Celebrity’s Solstice Class.

The ultimate sanctuary for world travelers will be the new private utopia called The Retreat, featuring a private pool on The Retreat Sundeck. Also part of this special space is The Retreat Lounge, which brings heightened levels of style and sophistication to Celebrity Edge and boasts around-the-clock personal butler service, and the exclusive Suite Class restaurant Luminae @ The Retreat.

With Celebrity Edge, Celebrity has more than doubled the number of available suites, adding two spectacular new categories. At the top of the line are two new Iconic Suites situated above the ship’s bridge. These near 2,600 sq. ft., two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites feature mind-blowing views thanks to panoramic windows enveloping the dining room, living room and bedrooms. The 700 sq. ft. veranda offers a 270-degree view of the ocean.

The two-level Edge Villas are one of the new Suite Classes aboard Edge. The suite boasts two stories of windows, an atrium stairway with terrace views and a three-foot-deep plunge pool.Another new Suite Class comprises six split-level Edge Villas, which offer stunning views from two stories of windows, private plunge pools and direct walk-out access to The Retreat Sundeck. Hoppen also designed the two two-bedroom, two-bathroom Penthouse Suites with large soaking tubs on the veranda, large dual walk-through showers, and expansive walk-in closets, and the 146 large, outward-facing Sky Suites. All suites and double occupancy Edge Staterooms are fitted with exclusively designed plush king-size cashmere mattresses – an industry first – and offer personal butler services and access to The Retreat.

The Rooftop Garden is one of many spaces aboard Celebrity Edge that will lure guests out to relax and play. Imagined by celebrated architect Tom Wright, the Rooftop Garden, tended daily by a resident horticulturist, is the perfect place for guests to enjoy games and activities through the day. At night, it is home to live music and the outdoor movie-and-meal pairing of "A Taste of Film.”

Cantilevered from the side of the ship, the Magic Carpet makes Celebrity Edge’s distinctive profile recognizable from miles away. The size of a tennis court, this incredible engineering feat scales the 16-deck ship through the day and evening, positioning at four of the ship’s decks, transforming into a new and exciting experience at each one.

At the summit of the ship on Deck 16, the Magic Carpet becomes the ultimate specialty restaurant offering a special “Dinner on the Edge” for 90 guests. Alongside Deck 14, Magic Carpet becomes an open-air expansion of the main pool area. On Deck 5, Magic Carpet extends one of the ship’s specialty restaurants into the most amazing al fresco seating imaginable, and at its lowest position on Deck 2, Magic Carpet is a key component to the Destination Gateway, a luxury embarkation station where guests will be whisked away aboard sleek Edge Launches.SM

Celebrity Edge will homeport in Fort Lauderdale, FL., making her first sailing December 16, 2018.

Significant Milestone In Carnival Horizon's Construction
In a time-honored maritime tradition dating back centuries, a ceremony was held earlier today aboard Carnival Horizon at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy, during which a commemorative coin was welded to the ship's mast to mark a significant construction milestone.

a ceremony was held earlier today aboard Carnival Horizon at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, ItalyThe coin ceremony – whose origins can be traced back to the ancient Romans who believed that attaching coins to a ship provided divine protection – signifies the successful completion of Carnival Horizon's exterior outfitting.

Fabrizio Timossi of Carnival's corporate shipbuilding department represented Carnival at the ceremony with Clementina Zecchin of Fincantieri's Marghera yard serving as godmother.

The 133,500-ton Carnival Horizon – a sister ship to the hugely popular Carnival Vista introduced last year – is set to debut in Europe April 2, 2018.

Carnival Horizon will offer many of the innovative indoor and outdoor dining, bar, entertainment and activity options that debuted on Carnival Vista.

Among those is a groundbreaking bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide, an IMAX Theatre and a massive WaterWorks aqua park with corkscrew slides, a tipping bucket and other attractions promising lots of splash-tastic fun.

A wide range of accommodations will also be offered, including spa cabins with exclusive privileges at the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa, extra-roomy staterooms in Family Harbor, and tropical-inspired Havana staterooms and suites with exclusive daytime access to a Cuban-themed bar and pool.

A variety of unique dining and bar concepts and spectacular outdoor spaces found only on Carnival Horizon will also be offered and revealed in the near future.

Carnival Horizon is scheduled to make its maiden voyage April 2, 2018, with a 13-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona – the first of four round-trip departures from this port. Carnival Horizon will reposition to the U.S. with a 14-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York May 9-23, 2018.

Following its summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from the Big Apple, Carnival Horizon will shift to Miami and kick off a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning Sept. 22, 2018. Carnival Horizon will also offer a special two-day cruise to Nassau from Miami Sept. 20-22, 2018.

Oceania Cruises Sails Into History As The First Major North American Brand To Travel To Cuba
Oceania Cruises' 1,250-guest Marina sails majestically past El Morro Castle into Havana HarborOceania Cruises made history this morning when its ship, Marina, pulled into Sierra Maestra cruise terminal in Havana, Cuba carrying 1,250 guests.

On board for this historic event was Bob Binder, co-founder and CEO of Oceania Cruises, and Frank Del Rio, Cuban-born founder of Oceania Cruises and CEO of parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. Once docked, Mr. Del Rio addressed international media regarding the inaugural voyage.

All voyages and excursions will fully comply with existing U.S. Federal Regulations and the most recent pronouncements from the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

In Havana, guests will have a selection of expertly crafted shore excursions to choose from, all of which offer an authentic Cuban experience that explores the people, music, art, history and culture of the island in compliance with OFAC regulations. To provide guests with even greater insights into Cuba and its people, guest scholars and expert lecturers on board the ship will deliver compelling presentations about Cuba's past, present and future.

The 14-day sailing departed from Miami on March 7 and will continue on to Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama Colombia, and the Cayman Islands. Oceania Cruises has two more sailings to Cuba scheduled this March and six scheduled for this autumn.

Carnival Corporation Expands Global Fleet Operations Centers
Carnival Corporation announced today that it is expanding the commercial maritime industry's first and most technologically advanced Fleet Operations Centers with the opening of a new facility in Seattle. The company's first Fleet Operations Center is located in Hamburg, Germany, with both centers providing real-time support for its 102-ship fleet, the largest in the cruise industry. A third center will be added to the global network later this year when construction is scheduled to be complete on a facility in Miami at the company's headquarters.

Carnival Corporation Expands Global Fleet Operations CentersThe new Fleet Operations Centers utilize a state-of-the-art tracking and data-analysis platform that enables real-time information sharing between Carnival Corporation ships and specialized onshore teams designed to support fleet operations. The proprietary system significantly improves communication from ship to shore, providing new capabilities for enhancing the safe passage of ships at sea while improving operational efficiencies and supporting overall environmental initiatives at Carnival Corporation.

The advanced system, which initially captures thousands of data points and provides real-time analytics for 28 distinct parameters for navigational safety from each ship, focuses on the following strategic areas to optimize safety, efficiency and overall fleet performance:

• Nautical Operations & Safety – including the capability to see real-time radar visuals, stability conditions, automation, the Safety Management and Command System, and webcams from each ship, along with GPS location, routing, ship conditions and weather data.
• Procedural Optimization & Efficiency – including speeds, navigational data and engine conditions.
• Sustainability – including fuel and energy usage, emissions levels, water and waste management.

"Our teams have done a remarkable job in developing the most sophisticated and capable system in the cruise and commercial maritime industry for taking safety management to a completely new level, overcoming the hurdles faced with ships sailing in the middle of oceans around the world," said Vice Admiral Bill Burke (ret.), chief maritime officer for Carnival Corporation. "With our new operations centers running our proprietary technology, both our ship and shoreside teams have greater-than-ever ability to ensure we are operating at safety levels that far exceed industry standards. We can now also access and analyze data that can significantly increase the operational efficiency of our ships, which is another major benefit."

Utilizing cloud-based technology from Microsoft, this new system – dubbed "Neptune" – has been in use at the Carnival Maritime Fleet Operations Center (FOC) in Hamburg, Germany, as announced in October 2015. Carnival Corporation has been piloting the system with its European cruise line brands in Hamburg and Southampton, England. Based on the system's success, the company will continue rolling out the system this year to further increase the monitoring capability of its ships sailing in the U.S. and Caribbean, through its Fleet Operation Centers in Miami and Seattle.

The new Carnival Corporation FOCs will provide an additional layer of support, where the shore-based analytics system will automatically generate alerts to help provide support in addressing any potential safety or weather-related issues across the fleet. Moving forward, the system's ability to process and analyze "big data" in real time will enable Carnival Corporation and its brands to do predictive analysis with the potential to further improve safety and operations.

The implementation of the advanced support system is aligned with the company's Arison Maritime Center, home of its Center for Simulator Maritime Training Academy, or CSMART Academy, the world-class maritime training, professional development and research facility in Almere, located just outside Amsterdam in the Netherlands, which currently provides some 6,500 deck and technical officers from the company's 10 global brands with extensive annual training programs.

"Our commitment to raising the bar on maritime safety has already generated several major enhancements, including our world-class CSMART Academy training facility where our deck and technical officers receive the industry's most progressive training using state-of-the-art simulators," said Burke. "Now we are taking it to the next level with our new Neptune support system and cutting-edge Fleet Operations Centers that enable us to support safety using real-time data in ways that have never been done in the cruising and commercial maritime industries. Together, our safety training programs and innovative technological capabilities like Neptune add even more strength to our comprehensive approach to safety and operational excellence as the number one priority for Carnival Corporation."

Holland America Line Introduces Rudi's Sel de Mer French Brasserie Pop-Up Restaurant
Holland America Line is honoring its Master Chef and culinary consultant Rudi Sodamin, the creator of Sel de Mer aboard ms Koningsdam, by launching the French brasserie as a pop-up in the Pinnacle Grill and naming it Rudi's Sel de Mer. Six ships in the fleet will feature the pop-up, including ms Eurodam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Oosterdam, ms Westerdam and ms Zuiderdam.

Master Chef and culinary consultant Rudi SodaminSince it launched on Koningsdam as a stand-alone venue, Sel de Mer has garnered both guest and industry acclaim. Rudi's Sel de Mer will build on this success with a version of the menu of classic French dishes including locally sourced seafood served in a setting that will transform the Pinnacle Grill alternative dining venue into an intimate brasserie with custom décor, plates, menus and uniforms reflecting the ambiance of the original Koningsdam restaurant. A specially crafted cocktail and wine menu also will be featured. Rudi's Sel de Mer will be offered once on seven-day cruises and twice on cruises longer than 10 days.

For Rudi's Sel de Mer, Chef Rudi also has created Food Faces art for the exclusive show plates made by Bernardaud, the leading French manufacturer of Limoges porcelain. Each artistic culinary plate portrays a work of art — from food.

"Sel de Mer onboard Koningsdam is extremely popular among our guests and one of the most talked about dining experiences in the industry," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "The restaurant showcases our commitment to providing our guests with unrivaled dining options, and launching it as Rudi's Sel de Mer on six more ships as a pop-up will allow more of our guests to see what the buzz is all about and indulge in its phenomenal cuisine."

Rudi's Sel de Mer is set to debut in 2017 on ms Nieuw Amsterdam March 31, ms Oosterdam May 11, ms Eurodam May 24, ms Westerdam June 12, ms Noordam Oct. 2 and ms Zuiderdam Nov. 10.

Rudi's Sel de Mer will serve a classic selection of French seafood dishes with a contemporary twist. After an amuse-bouche of Seared Scallops on Seaweed Salad and Light Saffron Vinaigrette Foam, guests can select appetizers including Steak Tartare, Bouillabaisse Marseillaise, Rudi's Seafood Tower and the classic Fruits de Mer (serves two).

For an entrée, guests can dine on Broiled Maine Lobster, Whole Dover Sole Meunière, Rack of Lamb Persillade, Duck Cassoulet, Steak Frites, Soufflé au Fromage and the popular Salt Crust Baked Branzino. The chefs also will go ashore to the local fish market whenever possible and personally select the catch of the day as a featured dish for the menu.

Side dishes include French fries, cauliflower puree, green beans, wild rice, truffled mashed potatoes and ratatouille.

No meal at Rudi's Sel de Mer would be complete without a delectable dessert. Choices include Crêpes Suzette, Apple Tarte Tatin, Profiteroles with Hot Chocolate Sauce, Artisanal French Cheese Plate and Rudi's famed Souffle – a version of the Salzburg Nockerl.

Rudi's Sel de Mer will be offered for a set price of $49 per person for dinner, and reservations are recommended.

Crystal Adds Famed Broadway Talent To Luxury Marquee
Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Kevin McCollumToday, Crystal introduced "Crystal on Broadway," an exclusive new partnership with multi-Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Kevin McCollum which will bring cast members and creative experts from some of theater's premier shows to Crystal's elegant stages and intimate venues.

McCollum – who boasts a 25-year career in the theater industry and counts In the Heights, Avenue Q, Rent, Motown: The Musical, and Something Rotten! among some of his great successes – will help present performances, lectures and Q&A with some of theater's top artists on select Crystal sailings.

Debuting this summer, 2017, the new line-up will feature guest singers, dancers, choreographers, directors, designers and other artists on designated voyages on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.

We are thrilled to announce this partnership with Kevin McCollum and his vast network of talented performers," says Edie Rodriguez, Crystal's chairman, CEO and president. "The artists and experts set for this exclusive new program hail straight from Broadway, offering our guests the superlative caliber of entertainment, enrichment and insider viewpoints they expect aboard a Crystal ship."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 57.21 + 2.64%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 97.25 + 2.57%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.44 + 4.27%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 51.10 + 2.69%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the first cruise/passenger ship to have a "magrodome" (the automatic glass or plexiglass covering over the pool area)?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Where exactly was "Luxury Liner Row" - and how was it traditionally defined?

Answer - "Luxury Liner Row" spanned Piers 84 - 97 on Manhattan's west side, from W. 44th-W.57th Streets
courtesy of William Evers, NYC


Cruise News - March 6, 2017

MSC Cruises Launches MSC for Me
Today, at leading travel show ITB Berlin, MSC Cruises unveiled its fleet-wide digital innovation program, MSC for Me. After spending the past three years working with more than eleven of the world's leading digital, tech and behavioral science experts — including Deloitte Digital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Samsung1 — MSC Cruises' holistic program puts guests at the heart of every step of the development, design and construction of its cruise ships. The Company envisions a fleetwide roll-out of the program, to the 11 upcoming next-generation megaships — to be built under MSC Cruises' industry-unprecedented nearly $10 billion, ten-year investment plan — as well as to its 12 existing cruise ships.

MSC for Me will bring to the sea some of the very latest advances in customer-centric technology, in a program designed to meet the needs of guests for years to comeMSC for Me will bring to the sea some of the very latest advances in customer-centric technology, in a program designed to meet the needs of guests for years to come. It will debut on MSC Meraviglia, the cruise line's first next-generation new mega-ship coming into service this June in the Mediterranean, which will be fitted with 16,000 points of connectivity, 700 digital access points, 358 informative and interactive screens, and 2,244 staterooms with RFID/NFC access technology. The program will next be rolled out on MSC Seaside when the ship launches in November.

MSC Cruises' Business Innovation team — supporting the vision and leadership of the Company's Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago — has overseen the integrated development, design and construction of the new ships. There will be three new classes of ships2 built from three new prototypes under the Company's ten-year investment plan. As a result, MSC Cruises will ensure that state-of-the-art technology is fully incorporated into every step of the development process of each prototype, from conception and construction through to the coming into service of each individual ship.

"From day one, innovation has been at the very core of what MSC Cruises stands for," said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises. "Each time we bring to the market a new class of ship we develop a brand new prototype, so that we can best address the evolving needs of guests. This distinct approach has led to over 800 percent growth over the first ten years since we entered the cruising business."

"The length and scale of our investment plan is unprecedented in the industry and it means that we aren't just planning ships and experiences relevant to our cruise guests in the next few years, but to those we will welcome on board as far out as 2030 and beyond," continued Vago. "Technology at the service of the guest experience is advancing at a rapid pace and that is why we've already invested about $21 million in the first two ships alone, to develop technology and infrastructure that is capable of meeting the needs of guests for years to come."

The holistic and guest-centric program is focused on connecting guests to their desired vacation experience through cutting-edge technology that is specially engineered to meet their every need, regardless of how they prefer to use technology when traveling.

"This journey started three years ago and today guests are less than 90 days away from experiencing a whole new cruise experience," said Luca Pronzati, chief innovation officer for MSC Cruises. "Together with more than eleven of the world's leading digital, tech and behavioral science experts, among which Deloitte Digital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Samsung, we are bringing some of their latest and most-advanced solutions and technology on board our ships – in fact, this is where most of these will be available for the first time ever on a cruise ship. Like smart, connected cities, but with the added complexity of being at sea, our fleet will demonstrate MSC Cruises' commitment to true innovation today and for years to come, making our ships a holiday destination in their own right."

In response to increasing demand for real-time flexibility, some of the innovative features that are available from MSC for Me are:

• Navigation: digital way finder that provides guests on board with advice, guidance and information on what's on. The technology is similar to smart maps and helps them find their way on the 1000+ foot long ships with a 16 foot precision. It also allows guests to locate their children, as needed.
• Concierge: allows guests to easily book services, restaurants, excursions and more in real time, 24/7.
• Capture: digital immersive discovery through virtual reality to preview excursions and a gallery with interactive screens showing the unique story of a guest's trip, which they can share in real time.
• Organizer: a planning tool for guests to check in with their mobile device, book trips, seats for shows, or the best dinner table, before embarking or when on board.
• TailorMade: digital, personal advisor that will provide tailored recommendations, based on preferences. Intelligent face recognition4 will help staff take care of guests in a highly personalized way. Interactive bracelets will connect guests to the ship's services and will activate geo-located suggestions through 3,050 bluetooth beacons.

Overall, MSC for Me will provide guests with over 130 smart features geared toward a fully optimized vacation experience. These include a dedicated app to help guests tailor their vacations at any point on their journey, whether they are booking their excursions prior to embarkation or a specialty restaurant while relaxing by the top-deck pool. This will improve the overall guest experience, while also freeing up more time to enjoy one's vacation at sea.

MSC for Me will see its initial roll-out across the Company's new builds, with further refinement and enrichment taking place as each ship comes into service. Its key features will then be rolled out to all 12 ships comprised in MSC Cruises' existing fleet.

Norwegian Debuts Popular "Escape Room" Experience
Continuing their history of providing guests with exciting, innovative and cutting edge entertainment, Norwegian Cruise Line has debuted an all-new entertainment experience onboard several of the line’s ships that will surprise and challenge guests: Escape The Big Top. Guests can experience the magic of an escape room with a twist, as they put their critical thinking skills to the test in a physical adventure game to solve challenges and beat the clock.

Norwegian Debuts Popular An onboard carnival takes an unusual turn when an act goes wrong. It’s then up to the guests to solve the clues and escape the spell before the time runs out. This complimentary event, which can run up to one hour, is the ultimate combination of intellect and urgency. Escape the Big Top gives guests of all ages the chance to not only compete against the clock, but their fellow guests as well for added fun.

The new entertainment concept is available several times per cruise onboard the line’s four newest ships, including Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Escape. Guests interested in testing their skills and knowledge can make their reservations through the box office once they are onboard and sign up information can be found in the ship’s Freestyle Daily.

Escape the Big Top is one of many engaging and award-winning entertainment offerings available to guests on Norwegian Cruise Line. Voted Best Entertainment by Cruise Critic, Norwegian features entertainment beyond anything at sea, including Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals, amazing dinner theatre experiences from Cirque Dreams, headline comedians, sing-along fun from Howl At The Moon, live music, over-the-top theme parties, spectacular shows and much more.

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas Headlines 2018-2019 Deployment
Royal Caribbean today breaks ground on the dramatic new PortMiami Terminal A, which will herald the arrival of what will be the world's largest cruise ship and the global cruise line's newest addition, Symphony of the Seas. She and Oasis-class sister ship Allure of the Seas, each with a bold and unexpected lineup of thrilling experiences that have revolutionized the cruise industry, will unite in November 2018 to offer island-hopping adventures through the Caribbean from the Magic City and add Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis to other marquee Oasis-class ports of call. Symphony's inaugural year of Europe and Caribbean itineraries are now available to book; Allure of the Seas' 2018-2019 itineraries will open for sale later in the month.

The 26th ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, Symphony of the Seas, will be delivered in April 2018 The 26th ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, Symphony of the Seas, will be delivered in April 2018 and spend her inaugural summer season exploring the awe-inspiring destinations of the Mediterranean calling on ports in Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence, France; Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples, Italy. She will then arrive to Miami in early November to begin seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries on Saturday, November 17 from the state-of-the-art Terminal A, dubbed the 'Crown of Miami.'

Symphony of the Seas will claim the title of the world's largest – and most adventure filled – cruise ship, offering 28 more staterooms than her newest sister ship Harmony of the Seas and encompassing 230,000 gross registered tons. Touting new features and amenities for guests, she also will boast all the groundbreaking innovations and thrilling experiences that have garnered world-wide recognition for Harmony of the Seas. Among the award-winning and acclaimed favorites are the distinct seven-neighborhood concept, imaginative and sophisticated dining, Bionic Bar robot bartenders powered by Makr Shakr, Broadway-caliber entertainment, the iconic waterfront AquaTheater, the Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, and Ultimate Abyss – the tallest slide at sea.

The 'Crown of Miami,' a 170,000-square-foot terminal, scheduled for completion for the arrival of Symphony and Allure, will be the most innovative cruise facility in the U.S. with an expected $500 million in revenue and the addition of 4,000 jobs to Miami-Dade County. It is anticipated that Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. will generate at least 1.8 million passenger moves at PortMiami, representing 30 percent of the port's projected passenger traffic.

Crystal Guests To Explore Land Of Wadi Rum And Bedouin Camps
Guests aboard Crystal Symphony's 2017 President's Cruise will be treated to special receptions and other experiences on board the ultra-luxury ship and ashore, hosted by Crystal's Chairman, CEO and President Edie Rodriguez. The culmination of these exclusive events will begin in coordination with a President's Excursion from Aqaba into the fabled desert wilderness of Wadi Rum and an immersive glimpse into the region's Bedouin tribes during an authentic dinner feast.

Wadi Rum Desert, JordanThe voyage marks Crystal's return to the Holy Land for the first time since 2012, and Arabian Peninsula calling in Limassol, Cyprus; Haifa and Ashdod, Israel; Aqaba, Jordan; and Salalah and Muscat, Oman, and transit of the Mediterranean, Red and Arabian Seas and the Suez Canal. For the 18-day sailing, Rodriguez and her husband, Tom, will join guests for receptions and parties.

Wadi Rum boasts grand wind-blown sand and stone formations and the geographical inspiration of the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. The mountainous region is still home to Bedouin tribes, who will welcome Crystal guests into their culture for an exclusive and festive evening. Elegant entertainment, ornate carpets and candlelight will set a contrasting scene against the harsh desert terrain, where Crystal guests will dine on specially prepared cuisine at the private party.

"This incredible event is something I am greatly looking forward to sharing with our guests, as I know, like me, they relish eye-opening experiences that showcase cultures and historic sites," says Rodriguez. "As this year's President's Cruise will be my first visit to Jordan, it will be my pleasure to discover this fascinating region alongside our guests."

In addition to the exclusive Wadi Rum and Bedouin Crystal Adventure, enlightening experiences ashore include exploration of the lost Rose City of Petra and an overnight stay in Muscat in time for the Sultan's extravagant birthday celebrations. Adventurous archaeological expeditions, rugged rock climbing and Indian Ocean scuba dives in Salalah are balanced by indulgent experiences like Sky Tea at the opulent Burj Al Arab and Sunset at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Cunard Unveils a Fresh Lineup of Special Event Cruises
Cunard, famed for its award-winning Insights enrichment program in which expert and celebrity speakers join voyages to inform and entertain guests, has created fresh programming for 2017 and 2018. From fashion icons to NASA astronauts, and puzzle masters to family historians, esteemed experts will dazzle like-minded passengers on various itineraries and on all three ships – Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth.

FESTIVAL OF FLOWERS (June 8, 2017 | V714): Queen Victoria's June 8-22, 2017 voyage features shore excursions to the exquisite gardens and flower markets of the Canary Islands including stops in Tenerife and Lanzarote to glimpse into the world of visionary artist César Manrique. Also included is an overnight stay in the floral paradise of Madeira with an evening dinner at Madeira's Quinta Jardins do Lago botanical garden hotel, plus workshops designed to enhance guests' appreciation of the floral arts.

Cunard Unveils a Fresh Line-Up of Special Event Cruises: From Geneaology to Literature and Fashion, as Part of 2017-2018 Voyage ProgramARTS AND LITERARY TOUR (July 1, 2017 | Q723): Queen Elizabeth will sail the British Isles, July 1-14, 2017, to explore the artistic side of ports including Rotterdam, Newhaven, and Liverpool, in the company of actor Robert Powell and Louise West, Trustee of the Charles Dickens Museum and Former Senior Curator of the Jane Austen House. Book Club get-togethers, Cunard Insights talks and events hosted by Clarendon Fine Art will allow guests to gain a deeper understanding of the life and works of popular authors like Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Beatrix Potter and Victor Hugo.

TRANSATLANTIC FASHION WEEK 2017 (August 31, 2017 | M732B): Fashion icon Iris Apfel, known for her individual style and joyful flair, will be featured on Cunard's second annual Transatlantic Fashion Week, August 31, 2017. A glamorous array of fashion shows, exhibitions, lectures and hosted dinners will be featured on this 2017 Queen Mary 2 voyage including guests Julien Macdonald, Colin McDowell, Gail Sackloff and more. Colin McDowell, Hal Rubenstein, Richard Young, Hilary Alexander and Gail Sackloff have already been announced for the third annual Transatlantic Fashion Week Crossing in September 2018.

WORLD SPACE WEEK (October 6, 2017 | M737): To celebrate the United Nations International World Space Week, Queen Mary 2's October 6, 2017 Crossing will feature top space experts including astronaut, scientist and former shuttle pilot, Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman; Charles Barclay, of the Royal Astronomical Society; Stephen Attenborough, Commercial Director of Virgin Galactic; and Ken Taggart, NASA historian.

CELEBRATION OF THE TIMES CROSSWORD (December 8, 2017 | M745): On December 8, 2017, The New York Times crossword puzzle editors will sail on a Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing in celebration of the crossword's 75th anniversary. Daily game sessions, lectures and crossword-themed activities will fill this voyage for problem-solving passengers.

THE NEW YORK TIMES INSIGHTS SERIES: Cunard has partnered with The New York Times to offer engaging speakers from this national news source on six Eastbound Transatlantic Crossings on Queen Mary 2 from May through December in 2017. Topics will include national security, climate change, economics, sports, politics, and much more.

VOYAGE DU VIN (June 1, 2018 | V819): Queen Victoria's first dedicated Voyage du Vin, June 1-8, 2018, will introduce guests to some of Europe's finest wine and port destinations such as Oporto, Lisbon and Vigo. This voyage will also include tastings from Cunard's wine list, which features more than 400 wines from 23 different countries. Passengers will have the opportunity to join the new Cunard Wine Academy and take the Wines and Spirits Education Trust Level 1. The voyage will feature a bespoke series of dinners, tastings and master classes with leading Iberian wine producers and experts.

A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY TO THE LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN (July 1, 2018 | Q820): Guests on Queen Elizabeth's Norwegian Voyage, July 1-13, 2018, will learn professional tips from esteemed experts such as Ross Hoddinott, one of England's leading wildlife and landscape photographers, and take a trip to the Arctic Circle to photograph the stunning phenomenon of the "midnight sun."

A JOURNEY OF GENEALOGY (November 4, 2018 | M842): For the first time ever Cunard has collaborated with Ancestry.com, the largest online family history resource in the world, to offer guests the opportunity to trace their family trees on a Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing. Ancestry experts will be on board this November 4, 2018 sailing to help guests follow their family's journeys, learn about family history, sift through records and discover their ethnic origins with AncestryDNA. One in five immigrants came to the U.S. on a Cunard liner so this collaboration is a perfect fit for passengers who want to trace the steps of their ancestors.

CARTOONISTS AT SEA PRESENTED BY THE NEW YORKER (June – Nov 2018): A unique opportunity to join cartoonists as they host lectures and workshops aboard five select 2018 Eastbound Transatlantic Crossings.

Additional special event cruises include:

Kiel Week (June 10, 2017 | Q721): Queen Elizabeth will call at Kiel, Germany during the middle of Kiel Week, the largest annual sailing event in the world. Featuring both tall ships and modern racers, Kiel Week has also become a popular festival of music, food and fun.

Fourth of July (July 1, 2017 | M724): An exciting Independence Day Celebration aboard Queen Mary 2 with calls to the historic ports of Halifax and Boston.

Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria's "Big Band Ball" (QE: Aug 20-25, 2017 | Q727; QV: Nov 13-18, 2017 | V726): a magnificent 13-piece Big Band Orchestra, for guests who like to dance and sing to the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Michael Bublé and Frank Sinatra.

Queen Elizabeth celebrating QE2's 50th Anniversary (September 8, 2017 | Q729): a special cruise honoring the 50th anniversary of Cunard's best-loved ship, the iconic QE2.

Le Havre 500th Anniversary (September 14, 2017 | M734): Queen Mary 2 will visit Le Havre during its 500th Anniversary as celebrations take place across the city. The voyage will begin in Southampton, then visit Le Havre, before crossing the Atlantic to New York.

Royal Caribbean Finalizes Agreement With The Bahamas To Grow Tourism
Royal Caribbean International, has committed to a multi-year agreement with the island nation of The Bahamas that will help grow tourism to the destination, rapidly increase the cruise line's employment of Bahamian nationals and invest in hospitality training to develop talent in the country.

Perry Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas (left) and Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal CaribbeanAt a signing ceremony attended by Perry Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas and Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International, the cruise line confirmed plans for a significant investment in major enhancements to CocoCay – its private island destination in The Bahamas – which will include the construction of a pier, additional guest features and amenities, and new opportunities for vendors and craftsmen to promote the culture of The Bahamas to visitors.

"Royal Caribbean has been a long-standing partner of the islands of The Bahamas and their plans to significantly increase tourism to our country as well as to develop the talent of our youth and expand employment opportunities for Bahamians is commendable," said Prime Minister Christie.

As part of the agreement, Royal Caribbean plans to work with The Bahamas government to develop a training program to provide those who aspire to a career in hospitality with a unique opportunity to participate in innovative training and development. The cruise line will create a curriculum that will prepare many thousands of students for careers at sea on board one of Royal Caribbean's ships. The classes will be facilitated by dedicated instructors who will provide students with theoretical and practical knowledge to help them develop valuable and marketable hospitality skills. In addition to the classroom experience, students will receive on-site guidance and training from shipboard professionals.

Royal Caribbean has committed to rapidly growing the number of Bahamian nationals employed by the cruise line in the next five years. In addition, they have joint ownership of the Grand Bahamas shipyard in Freeport at which major revitalizations and drydock maintenance of its ships take place.

"Tourism is an important engine of growth for the economy of destinations in the Caribbean and The Bahamas, and we are excited to bring more visitors on our newest and most innovative ships to this popular vacation spot," said Bayley. "Our commitment to The Bahamas is multifold. It is our responsibility to contribute to the country's economic diversity, to its employment base and the training of Bahamian youth as well as the protection of the environment. We are excited about the continued growth of tourism in The Bahamas, and look forward to doing our part to keep that growth and progress moving along in the years to come."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 55.74 - 0.55%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 94.81 - 1.94%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.34 - 1.27%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 49.76 - 1.99%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Where exactly was "Luxury Liner Row" - and how was it traditionally defined?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was first cruise ship fitted with a podded propulsion system, and what year did that ship enter service?

Answer - The first cruise ship to be fitted with a podded proplusion system was Carnival Cruise Lines' Elation (number 491), and was delivered in February 1998 from MasaYards in Helsinki, Finland.
courtesy of Steve Perry, Miami, Florida USA


Cruise News - February 27, 2017

Viking Sky Sets Sail On Maiden Voyage
Viking Ocean Cruises today celebrated the maiden voyage of its third ship, Viking Sky, from Rome's Civitavecchia port to Barcelona. Sister ship to the award-winning Viking Star and Viking Sea, Viking Sky will begin her maiden season sailing itineraries throughout the Western and Eastern Mediterranean before heading north into Viking territory to sail Scandinavian and Baltic itineraries in the summer. Viking Sky will cross the Atlantic this fall and will finish out the year sailing itineraries in the Americas and the Caribbean.

Viking Ocean Cruises celebrates the maiden voyage of its third ship, Viking Sky. The new 930-guest ship will spend her maiden season sailing itineraries in the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, Scandinavia and the Baltic"As we officially welcome our third ship to the fleet, it is a proud moment for the entire Viking family. We continue to see a positive response from our guests and the industry, which makes us confident in our future growth," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "We started in the cruise business 20 years ago, and our philosophy is still the same – we do not try to be everything to everyone. We are a destination-oriented small ship cruise line, and as we prepare to introduce a fourth ocean ship by the end of 2017, we look forward to introducing even more guests to The Viking Way of exploration."

Classified as a "small ship," the all-veranda, Viking Sky, like her sister ships, has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boasts 465 cabins and accommodates 930 passengers. Viking's fourth ship, Viking Sun, will be delivered in November and will spend her maiden season sailing the company's first-ever World Cruise. Viking Spirit will join the fleet in 2018 and will sail itineraries in Australia, Asia and Alaska. A sixth, yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in 2019; the arrival will mark Viking as the largest small ship ocean cruise line. The ocean ships are designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships.

Designed for discerning travelers, Viking offers guests "the thinking person's cruise" as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking Difference is providing guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring them closer to the cultures of the world. Ships are small to get guests closer to their destination, with more time in port, more overnights and fewer days at sea. Onboard, guests find serene Scandinavian spaces, where every room is beautiful and functional, quiet and filled with light. All-veranda ships mean that guests experience every day with a new, expansive vista. With the most al fresco dining at sea, featuring regional cuisines and always-available American classics, Viking's guests can truly dine in their destination. A focus on cultural enrichment brings immersive experiences onshore and onboard. And only The Viking Way brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.

While every cruise fare includes a guided excursion in each port, Viking's optional excursion program was designed to provide guests with enriching experiences that go beyond the iconic and the expected, for example:

• The Hermitage Behind Closed Doors, St. Petersburg, Russia – Offered on the 15-day Viking Homelands itinerary, guests receive a Privileged Access view of the vaults of one of the world's greatest art collections at the magnificent Hermitage Museum.
• Vistas, Vikings & The Village Woodturner, Torshavn, Faroe Islands – Available on the 15-day In the Wake of the Vikings itinerary, guests can gain insight into daily village life and the rich Viking heritage as they explore the village of Kvivik, site of a 10th-century Viking settlement.
• A Taste of Provence, Toulon, France – Guests on the 17-day Catalonia to Greece itinerary can enjoy a private cooking lesson at a magnificent 19th-century house in the scenic Provençal countryside from Michelin-star rated Master Chef of France, Monsieur Bérard.
• Nazareth & The Sea of Galilee, Haifa, Israel – Offered on the 15-day Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Land itinerary, guests can choose to visit some of the most important places in the life of Jesus on this fascinating excursion through Canaan, Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum and Tabgha.
• King Crab Safari, Honningsvåg, Norway – Available on the 15-day Into the Midnight Sun itinerary, guests can set off in a deep-sea raft into the pristine waters of Sarnesfjorden to catch their own king crab in this thrilling excursion.
• Evening Concert on the Island of Our Lady of the Rocks, Kotor, Montenegro – On the 10-day Empires of the Mediterranean itinerary, guests can embark on a boat for the island of Gospa od Škrpjela, or Our Lady of the Rocks, to enjoy an exclusive and intimate guitar recital by two eminent Montenegrin musicians, Darko Nikcevic and Srdjan Bultaovic.

In addition, Viking Inclusive Value provides a small ship experience at a big ship value—with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; premium dining reservations; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry; access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service—an included value of more than $200 per person, per day for an average cruise.

Carnival Corporation's Exhaust Gas Cleaning Technology Installed on 60 Percent of Fleet
Carnival Corporation & plc today announced it has completed the installation and certification of Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) on an industry-leading 60 ships across its brands. Representing a $400 million investment to date, the company is on track to develop and deploy its systems on more than 85 vessels across its global fleet through 2020 – significantly improving the quality of air emissions from its ships and reinforcing its environmental commitment.

Carnival Corporation's Exhaust Gas Cleaning Technology Installed on 60 Percent of FleetFirst announced in 2013, the company broke new ground in engineering a proprietary technology to successfully function in the confined spaces of a cruise ship to reduce sulfur compounds and particulate matter from a ship's engine exhaust at any operating state of a ship – at sea, during maneuvering and in port. The systems enable Carnival Corporation to meet international regulations that place a cap on sulfur content of fuel oil at 0.1 percent. In addition to mitigating costs for low-sulfur fuel, the systems further the company's sustainability goals to continue reducing the intensity of carbon emissions while improving the overall quality of emissions.

"Our Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems represent advanced environmental technology, and underscore our company's strong commitment to responsible sustainability practices," said Mike Kaczmarek, vice president of corporate marine technology for Carnival Corporation. "Due to the success we have had with improving air quality with our systems, we have expanded our commitment to install and deploy this technology from an original 32 vessels to over 85 through the end of 2020. This is part of our ongoing focus on evaluating new technologies, employing new shipbuilding techniques and implementing energy-saving initiatives throughout our fleet to protect the health and vitality of the oceans, seas and communities in which we operate."

Carnival Corporation's Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems, known for their ability to clean – or "scrub" – exhaust from high-sulfur fuel, are currently installed and certified on 17 Carnival Cruise Line vessels, 13 Holland America Line vessels, 10 Princess Cruises vessels, seven Costa Cruises vessels, five AIDA Cruises vessels, four P&O Cruises UK vessels, three Cunard vessels and one P&O Cruises Australia vessel. The installation schedule for the remaining vessels will be forthcoming.

Carnival Corporation pioneered adapting a proven land-based exhaust gas cleaning technology into a marine system that is suitable for the restricted spaces available on cruise ships, leading to a significant development in shipboard environmental technology.

The sulfur reduction program is in line with other proactive steps Carnival Corporation has taken to reduce its carbon footprint, including the adoption of LNG – the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel. In 2015, AIDAsol from the company's AIDA Cruises brand was the first cruise ship in the world to be supplied with power by an LNG Hybrid barge and, last year, the newly delivered AIDAprima became the first cruise ship to routinely use LNG with a dual-fuel powered engine while in port. By 2019, with the introduction of the first of seven fully LNG-powered vessels, Carnival Corporation will be the first cruise company in the world to use LNG to power cruise ships both while they are in port and on the open sea.

"With the International Maritime Organization, the Cruise Lines Industry Association and various government organizations all calling for improved efficiency in clean operations, we see the installation of exhaust cleaning systems and use of clean fuels as steps to future-proof our fleet," said Kaczmarek. "We are proud to be ahead of the curve in meeting the upcoming regulations and guidelines."

Carnival Sensation Undergoes Extensive Renovation
Carnival Sensation has undergone a multi-million-dollar renovation and emerged with a variety of popular food and beverage concepts, as well as a new nautical-themed children's play area.

Carnival Sensation Undergoes Extensive RenovationFollowing the two-week-long dry dock, which took place in Freeport, The Bahamas, the 2,052-passenger Carnival Sensation today resumed its year-round schedule of four- and five-day cruises from Miami.

Carnival Sensation is the third Carnival ship to undergo a refurbishment this year with Carnival Dream and Carnival Ecstasy receiving new spaces, as well.

Here's a look at the new spaces now available on Carnival Sensation:

• Guy's Burger Joint: a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries enjoyed amidst a décor that celebrates the chef's California roots and love of car culture.

• RedFrog Rum Bar: a poolside watering hole offering the quintessential Caribbean vacation vibe with refreshing Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival's own private label draught brew, ThirstyFrog Red.

• BlueIguana Cantina: a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic, freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar.

• Alchemy Bar: a "cocktail pharmacy"-themed lounge with mixologists who "prescribe" concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients with creative monikers like Forty is the New Twenty and The Restorative Basil Drop.

• Cherry On Top: the "sweetest spot on board" which celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more.

• BlueIguana Tequila Bar: a fun and festive outdoor bar offering a laid-back Mexican-themed atmosphere and tequila-based frozen drinks and beers, perfect for chillin' by the pool.

• Camp Ocean: a colorful marine-inspired play area designed for kids ages 2-11 that showcases the wonders of the sea through fun and engaging interiors and more than 200 ocean-themed activities, including arts and crafts, science-oriented programming, and more.

Carnival Sensation's year-round schedule from Miami includes four-day cruises to Cozumel departing Thursdays that visit Nassau and the private Bahamian destinations of Half Moon Cay or Princess Cays or Cozumel and Key West, or five-day voyages departing Mondays and Saturdays calling at Grand Turk, Nassau and Half Moon Cay or Grand Turk and Amber Cove.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2018 Japan Cruise and Cruisetour Program
Princess Cruises, the top North American cruise line in Japan, today announced its longest Japan cruise season yet with an array of voyages from Tokyo and Kobe in 2018 that circumnavigate the country, visiting top-rated cultural ports.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2018 Japan Cruise and Cruisetour ProgramWith Japanese maiden port calls to Ishinomaki, Iwakuni, Niigata, Sakata, Toba and Yokkaichi, along with visits to South Korea, Taiwan, China, Russia, Hong Kong and Vietnam, the voyages are designed to offer opportunities to explore the wonders of UNESCO World Heritage sites and to participate in some of Japan's largest and most celebrated cultural festivals and special events. In addition, cruisetour itineraries will take travelers into the heart of Japanese culture in Kyoto and Tokyo, and include visits to Togendai, Lake Ashi and Mt. Fuji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A total of 63 voyages are open for sale on Japanese-built Diamond Princess, ranging from four to 23 nights, with 38 destinations in seven countries. The 2018 season runs from April through December 2018.

"We are honored to bring guests more departures and visits to top-rated ports in 2018 than ever before," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. "Through local cultural entertainment and culinary experiences to our purpose-made ship specific to Japan; our guests are sure to enjoy the most of this storied country at sea with Princess."

2018 Japan program highlights include:

Festivals and Special Events
Three Spring Flowers voyages depart in April, providing guests access to Japan's largest Tulip Fair and some of Japan's top cherry blossom viewing sites, such as Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa.

Guests enjoy the best of summer festival time in Japan as Princess Cruises offers five 8- to 19-day voyages visiting the Aomori Nebuta and Akita Kanto festivals, with late night stays in both cities to allow for even more exploration of these incredible events. The Aomori Nebuta Festival features Nebuta float figures, music and many vibrant dancers. The Akita Kanto features a procession of 200 bamboo poles with lanterns weighing over 100 pounds all carried on the palms, foreheads, shoulders or backs of the celebrants.

Six Fall Foliage voyages depart in early October and November, bringing guests to regions of Japan that showcase the brilliant changing colors of the Japanese maple and Ginkgo trees as summer makes way for fall.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites
The 2018 Japan season features access to 12 UNESCO World Cruise Heritage Sites, including the historic temples and shrines of Kyoto and Nara, the majestic Mt. Fuji, and the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima.

More Ashore
In 2018 Diamond Princess itineraries will visit 12 ports with late night calls, featuring longer stays on every call to Hakodate for breath-taking views of the city at night – nationally known as one of Japan's top three night views.

Getaway Cruises
For a shorter journey, there are five-night voyages throughout the season sailing roundtrip from Tokyo, visiting Busan, South Korea and Yokkaichi, a new port of call that provides access to the Ise Grand Shrine and is just a stone's throw away from Matsusaka, known for the exquisite Matsusaka Beef.

Japan Cruisetours
To further enhance the cruise line's Japanese vacations, Princess Cruises offers two cruisetour options, available with select cruises, to explore Kyoto and Tokyo. The Highlights of Japan cruisetour includes the main sights in Kyoto and Tokyo, sightseeing at Nijo-jo Castle, the famed Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion) and popular Japanese gardens. After visiting central Tokyo, guests will visit Togendai, Lake Ashi and Mt. Fuji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Temples & Traditions of Japan cruisetour is an extended version of the Highlights of Japan with two additional nights in the UNESCO Creative City of Kanazawa. This area is rich with Japanese culture and tradition where guests can roam Higashi Chaya, an iconic Geisha district, as well as Nomura Samurai House. Guests have the opportunity to participate in a Japanese Washi paper-making demonstration as well as a sushi-making experience.

An experienced tour director and most meals are included on both cruisetour options.

While Diamond Princess features the cruise line's signature innovations, such as the popular Movies Under the Stars poolside theater and The Sanctuary, an exclusive top-deck retreat, it also offers many unique features designed to enhance the Japanese cultural experience onboard, including:

• Izumi Japanese Bath – the largest of its kind at sea and modeled after the popular Japanese onsen experience
• Kai Sushi restaurant – boasting made-to-order sushi and a full selection of Japanese sake
• Noodle stations – serving up a rotating selection of ramen, soba and udon noodles
• Tamagoyaki – a traditional Japanese omelet available daily for breakfast
• Unique Japanese entertainment offerings such as "rakugo" storytelling performances and origami classes
• Extensive luxury brand duty-free shopping

In addition, dining room menus offer a wide variety of international cuisine, including Japanese options on all menus, and onboard collateral items and stateroom information are available in both English and Japanese.

Diamond Princess was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki, Japan – the first of two Princess ships built in Japan.

For Groups Small or Large, Cruises Become Latest Trend for Fun, Easy Vacations
Vacations are often best when shared. Go on a cruise vacation with a group – whether your friends, extended family, co-workers, alumni association, church or the folks in your bowling league – and everyone can experience quality time together as well as private moments.

Cruise line group departments help make planning a snap whether your group is looking for a getaway for a few days, a week or more, and you don't have to be a huge crowd to qualify for group discounts.

In cruise lingo, a "group" usually is a minimum of 16 passengers in eight staterooms – on Princess Cruises and on the Odyssey-class ships of luxury line Seabourn, a group begins at 10 passengers in five staterooms.

For Groups Small or Large, Cruises Become Latest Trend for Fun, Easy VacationsPerks are part of the group programs too. On Holland America Line, for instance, family reunion and other groups booking eight staterooms or more qualify for bonuses such as a stateroom upgrade, lunch or dinner at the posh Pinnacle Grill and beverage cards.

Groups might expand to dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people on the largest ships.

Gary Bertch, president and co-owner of Waterloo, Iowa-based Bertch Cabinets, recently chartered hundreds of cabins on a ship to reward his 800 employees for meeting company revenue goals. Everyone was invited to set sail on Carnival Cruise Line's 2,758-passenger Carnival Victory, and the boss footed the bill for the four-day cruise from Miami to Cozumel.

"It's a good value and most everything is included," says Bertch, who was joined by his wife and co-owner Becky Bertch, employees and their guests on the sailing. "For us it's a celebration of working hard for a year."

On the ship, Bertch Cabinet employees could do their own thing, lounging by the pool, zipping down the Twister water slide, playing Ping-Pong in the sun, enjoying show productions, experiencing both downtime and togetherness.

"We don't do a lot of formal meetings on the ship," says Bertch, who also took employees to sea several years ago during a flush period. "We see this as an effective way to get people focused on the same goals."

Advantages that cruising brings to larger groups are also available to smaller groups, from value and ease of planning to opportunities to customize your experience to the "wow" factor inherent in traveling by ship.

Destinations popular with groups include the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexican Riviera, Alaska and the Mediterranean. Wherever you cruise you only unpack once and your ship takes you to exciting places. Onboard, your fare covers a dizzying array of dining options, fun activities for all ages, entertainment and nightlife.

For celebrations such as anniversaries, weddings, milestone birthdays, family reunions and bachelorette parties, shipboard chefs, photographers, videographers, florists, ice carvers and musicians are available to make your event special, no matter the size or focus of your group. For weddings and vow renewal ceremonies, specialized wedding advisors focus on creating the affair of your dreams.

The sky is the limit when it comes to customization. Ask the ship's bakery to whip up a cake featuring your football team's logo. Make arrangements for your church group to conduct a prayer gathering under the stars. Get everyone in colorful t-shirts and pose for a photo or book musicians to play at your wedding.

A great way to make a family reunion memorable is to hold a private dinner in a specialty restaurant, with shipboard photographers capturing the celebration.

At the ports of call, get co-workers pumped on a customized zip line adventure or treat your multigenerational family group to a private scenic catamaran trip with a stop at a white sand beach. Lasting memories will no doubt ensue: When's the last time the whole gang spent time at the beach?

For groups with kids, cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises Australia and Italy's Costa Cruises, and the five family-friendly ships of British line P&O Cruises, have supervised activity programs for toddlers to teens.

While the kids are occupied, parents can enjoy some time off, relaxing at the pool, indulging at the spa and enjoying such shipboard activities as a cooking demonstration or a wine tasting.

"There's something for everybody," says Justin C. French, regional vice president of sales for Carnival Cruise Line. "Variety and quality is key."

Planning a group cruise is easier than you think. Depending on the cruise line, and where and when you plan to sail, groups are typically able to lock in specific cabins at a set rate for a period of time, giving the group leader opportunity to get the word out.

Group reservations can encompass a variety of accommodations to fit all pocketbooks. If you are doing a family reunion and Aunt Beryl wants a suite, and cousin Joe prefers a value-priced inside stateroom and you prefer a family-sized balcony stateroom, all desires can be handled in one booking. Deposits and payments can even be made directly to the cruise line using a group booking code.

Cruise ships have a distinct advantage over land-based resorts in that they can move. You don't have to worry about being stuck, for instance, at an all-inclusive resort where it rains for a week.

There is also the advantage on ships, as compared to land-based venues, that a wide array of entertainment such as lavish show productions, comedians, live music, movies and parties with DJs are all included in the cruise fare.

For the meetings and incentive market, cruise ships are an increasingly popular venue, especially when it comes to rewarding top-performing employees and salespeople for a job well done, says Melissa Van Dyke, president of the McLean, Virginia-based Incentive Research Foundation. Visiting several destinations on one trip is an attraction as is the diversity of onboard attractions, Van Dyke says.

Other perks include the fact you're in a relaxing environment where all your needs are cared for – the pampering crew even making up your bed twice a day.

For generous boss Bertch, who has also done family reunions on Carnival Cruise Line ships, the opportunity to let your hair down is key.

"We like to have fun," Bertch says. "It's worked out really well."

Here are five tips for putting together the perfect group cruise:

  1. Appoint a group leader. This point person can help get everyone on the same page, coordinating when and where and on what ship your group wants to cruise and serving as the liaison with the experts in the cruise line's group department.
  2. Make reservations well in advance. You will want to lay claim to a block of cabins as soon as possible. Booking a year in advance is preferable, which means now is the time for your group to look at winter 2018.
  3. Work with a travel agent. Experienced travel agents can help take pressure off the group leader, handling logistics and working with the cruise line to make your experience special.
  4. Book a shore experience. As you seek to create memories consider splurging on a group outing, designed by cruise line experts and led by local guides at a port of call.
  5. Plan a special meal. For a memorable celebration, book the steakhouse or one of the ship's other specialty restaurants. The ship's experienced food & beverage team can assist with menus and wine selections.

Cruise Bookings Show Solid Growth in 2017, According to Survey
Today, Travel Leaders Group released its travel survey data specific to the cruise industry, which together with real-time current booking data indicates increased demand among leisure travelers for cruise vacations in 2017. Nearly 87% of travel agent experts who book cruise vacations stated that their 2017 cruise bookings are equal to or higher than the previous year, and more than 84% of those surveyed said their Mediterranean cruise bookings have increased or on are par, year-over-year. Actual booking data corroborates the survey results with year-over-year increases of eight percent or more charted for key cruise segments.

Cruise Bookings Show Solid Growth in 2017, According to SurveyAccording to the survey results, Western Caribbean cruises are the most popular itinerary being booked, followed by Alaska cruises, Eastern Caribbean cruises, European river cruises and Mediterranean cruises, respectively. This survey data is based on responses from 1,062 Travel Leaders Group travel agent experts who book cruise vacations for their clientele.

"Cruise bookings for 2017 have been on the upswing since last year, and a substantial percentage of our travel agents' leisure bookings are in this crucial segment. In fact, our latest data show a 10 percent increase in year-over-year revenue for luxury cruise bookings, and premium cruise bookings are trending higher by eight percent," stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. "Our travel agents are continuously educating themselves – by firsthand experience and in-depth supplier training – to ensure they're matching the right cruise line, ship and itinerary with each individual client's expressed needs. While it requires a significant investment of their time, the benefit is how they have established themselves as trusted resources for creating the ideal getaways for their clients."

Based on Travel Leaders Group's 2017 Travel Trends Survey, these are the top cruise itineraries being booked by its travel agents specializing in cruises:

1 Caribbean – Western
2 Alaska
3 Caribbean – Eastern
4 Europe – River Cruise
5 Europe – Mediterranean
6 Caribbean – Southern
7 Panama Canal
8 (tie) Mexican Riviera
8 (tie) Hawaii
10 Europe – Baltic

"The allure of a Caribbean cruise is undeniable for millions of Americans. However, what's truly impressive is the tremendous growth, over the past 24 months, in Alaska cruises. Consumer demand has been nothing short of phenomenal," said John Lovell, CTC, President of Travel Leaders Network and Leisure Group. "Within Travel Leaders Network, we have nearly 850 travel agents who are specialists in Alaska cruises alone. Their expertise, coupled with cruise lines keeping up with the increased demand by deploying more ships, has allowed a record number of travelers to experience the breathtaking wonder of 'The Last Frontier.'"

Overall Year-Over-Year Cruise Bookings:
When asked to compare their overall 2017 cruise bookings to the same time one year ago, 86.4% of survey respondents stated bookings were higher than or the same as the year before (44.7% said "Higher" while 41.7% stated "They're even").

Mediterranean Cruise Bookings:
Specifically related to 2017 Mediterranean cruise bookings, 84.5% of those polled indicated their bookings were even or higher than the previous year (39.8% said "Higher" while 44.7% stated "They're even").

Also, Travel Leaders Group travel agents who book Mediterranean cruises were asked to identify the top itineraries their clients are selecting for Mediterranean cruises this year. Those polled could select up to three itineraries, and the top responses included:

1 Barcelona to Rome 25.4%
2 Barcelona Roundtrip 25.1%
3 Rome Roundtrip 21.9%
4 Rome to Barcelona 14.2%
5 Rome to Venice 13.1%

European River Cruises:
When Travel Leaders Group travel agents were asked to compare their overall European river cruise bookings, 78.2% stated they were on par with or higher than the previous year (34.3% said "Higher" while 43.9% stated "They're even").

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 56.05 + 1.17%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 96.69 + 1.55%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.37 + 1.72%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 50.77 + 6.46%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was first cruise ship fitted with a podded propulsion system, and what year did that ship enter service?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which commercial steamship company handled the passenger and cargo operations for the N/S SAVANNAH, America's only nuclear powered merchant vessel?

Answer - The initial commercial operator, in 1962, of NS Savannah was States Marine Line. In 1963 operation was transferred to American Export Lines, subsequently American Export-Isbrandtsen Lines.
courtesy of Peter Pinner UK


Cruise News - February 20, 2017

Norwegian Announces Order for Next Generation of Ships for Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. today announced it has reached an agreement with Fincantieri S.p.A. to construct the next generation of extraordinary ships for its Norwegian Cruise Line brand. Four ships are on order for delivery in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025, with an option for two additional ships to be delivered in 2026 and 2027.

Carnival to Order First-Ever Cruise Ships Built in ChinaThe four 140,000 gross ton ships will each accommodate approximately 3,300 guests. The new class of ships will build upon the highly successful offering of freedom and flexibility found on the brand’s most recent Breakaway-Plus Class ships and feature a host of innovative designs that will further elevate its already award-winning guest experience. A priority of the prototype design is energy efficiency, with the aim of optimizing fuel consumption and reducing the impact on the environment. Details on the ships’ many innovative guest facing and first at sea features will be announced at a later date.

“This new class of ships will continue Norwegian Cruise Line brand’s legacy of introducing meaningful innovation to the cruise industry,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “This order continues to highlight our disciplined newbuild program, extends our growth trajectory well into the future, enhances our already attractive earnings profile, and drives expected long-term returns for our shareholders.”

“For the past 50 years, Norwegian Cruise Line has been focused on offering our guests the very best in cruising,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “It is with great excitement that we look ahead to our next 50 years, which includes this next generation of ships that will offer guests the innovative experiences that have come to define the Norwegian Cruise Line brand.”

“We are extremely excited to collaborate with Norwegian Cruise Line and this partnership allows us to include a new prestigious client in Fincantieri’s portfolio,” said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri S.p.A.

“We are very proud of the innovative design of these ships and recognize the various stakeholders of the export chain who have contributed decisively to achieving this goal. The significant value of the order will provide substantial economic benefits by extending the employment horizon of our shipyards, and we are honored to support the growth of our country’s economy.”

The contract price for each of the four vessels is approximately €800 million per ship. The Company has obtained export credit financing with favorable terms to fund 80 percent of the contract price of each ship delivered through 2025, subject to certain conditions.

Carnival to Order First-Ever Cruise Ships Built in China
Carnival Corporation today announced that its cruise joint venture in China has signed a new memorandum of agreement (MOA) to order the first-ever cruise ships built in China for the Chinese market.

Today's agreement updates the terms of an initial shipbuilding MOA announced in September 2016, further expanding the cooperation between Carnival Corporation and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), China's flagship company in shipbuilding.

Carnival to Order First-Ever Cruise Ships Built in ChinaIn support of China's larger efforts to prioritize cruise industry growth in its five-year economic development plan, the MOA was formalized during an official signing ceremony held today at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Italian President Sergio Mattarella. Representatives of Carnival Corporation, CSSC and Fincantieri executed the agreement on behalf of Carnival Corporation's cruise joint venture and the shipbuilding joint venture, respectively.

As part of the new MOA, Carnival Corporation's cruise joint venture in China agreed to order two new cruise ships to be built by a China-based shipbuilding joint venture between CSSC, the largest shipbuilder in China, and Italy-based Fincantieri S.p.A. The MOA also gives Carnival Corporation's cruise joint venture the option to order four additional China-built cruise ships.

Based on its global expertise as the world's largest and leading cruise company, Carnival Corporation will operate and manage all cruise ships owned by the cruise joint venture as part of its plans to launch the first multi-ship cruise brand in China. The two new ships will be built with a design tailored for the cruise brand and the specific tastes of Chinese travelers. Under the agreement, Carnival Corporation will provide onsite supervision and support during ship construction. The first of these ships is expected for delivery in 2023.

Carnival Corporation's cruise joint venture – a partnership announced in 2015 with CSSC in which Carnival Corporation holds a minority interest – plans to launch a cruise brand in China using ships that are purchased from Carnival Corporation's existing fleet. Based on today's agreement, the joint venture would then add new China-built cruise ships starting in 2023 to further accelerate growth in the Chinese cruise market and serve increasing demand for cruising from Chinese and Asian travelers.

"We are proud to order the first China-built cruise ships and play a meaningful role in developing cruise shipbuilding capabilities for the first time in China," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "This represents another important milestone in building a sustainable and prosperous cruise industry, and demonstrates our commitment to contributing to China become a leading cruise market as part of its five-year economic development plan."

"Our cruise joint venture's agreement to order the first-ever cruise ships built in China and specifically designed for our cruise brand to serve Chinese guests is a tremendous opportunity to grow interest and demand for cruising as part of China's rapidly expanding tourism market," said Michael Thamm, group CEO, Costa Group and Carnival Asia. "We are very committed to working closely with our partners to further develop the Chinese cruise industry and continue supporting China's efforts to become one of the leading cruise markets in the world, which will remain a key driver for cruise growth across Asia for many years to come."

"Following the five concepts of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, CSSC is working closely with international partners like Carnival Corporation and Fincantieri to build the first cruise ships in China, which will significantly advance the rapid, sustainable and healthy development of the Chinese cruise industry," said Wu Qiang, president of CSSC. "Global economic integration is still an irresistible trend. Our close partnership with Carnival Corporation and Fincantieri, with the aim to build cruises addressing the additional demand from the Chinese and Asian market, will let more people enjoy the benefits of globalization and live a better life."

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, stated: "Looking at the global scenario means trying to widen one's boundaries, laying the foundations to further boost business prospects and access more complex markets. It is not possible to maintain a competitive presence in the medium and long term without such a commitment. We therefore believe that today's agreement is an example of industrial partnership that not only reaffirms our leadership in the cruise industry, but also creates a virtuous system among the two countries."

AIDA Cruises Announces Start of Construction of The First LNG Cruise Ship in The World
On February 21, 2017, a new age dawned for the cruise shipping sector at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg. AIDA President Felix Eichhorn and Meyer Werft Director Bernard Meyer performed the symbolic first steel cutting for the world's first cruise ship that can be run completely on liquid natural gas (LNG).

AIDA Cruises Announces Start of Construction of The First LNG Cruise Ship in The WorldThe Rostock-based cruise company had announced the continuation of the longstanding strategic partnership with the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg in the summer of 2015 and issued the order for two new vessels of the next AIDA generation. The vessels, with a size in excess of 180,000 GT (gross tonnage) and around 2,500 cabins each will strengthen the AIDA fleet in the fall of 2018 and spring 2021 respectively.

With the "Green Cruising" concept, AIDA Cruises will be the first cruise shipping company in the world with the capability to operate its new generation of ships using 100% LNG.

"With the start of construction of the first LNG cruise ship in the world, we are not only setting standards for the future in terms of eco-friendliness. Thanks to the further development of the innovative ship design and a large number of successful product innovations of the existing AIDA fleet, we will be opening up totally new worlds of experience to our guests on board our ships in the future. An extraordinary variety of individual vacation possibilities, innovative entertainment and cuisine concepts, inspired by the modern lifestyle of international hotspots – these are just some of the themes with which we are creating new impetus in Germany's vacation market", said Felix Eichhorn on the occasion of the first steel cutting in Papenburg.

"We are very proud to be driving forward this quantum leap in the area of environmental protection together with AIDA Cruises. The successful development of this new and sophisticated ship class for AIDA Cruises shows what a good team spirit, the consistent pursuit of a common goal and committed people can bring about", added Bernard Meyer.

The new generation of ships combines innovative design with state-of-the-art technology for even more comfort on board. The successfully launched features, such as the Brewerie, Theatrium, Beach Club and the Four Elements, have been developed further for the new vessel generation. A new cabin concept will provide AIDA guests with even more room for individuality and personal service in the future, from the Penthouse Suite to the extra-large cabin for families as well as the single cabin. Culinary trends from all over the world served in 15 restaurants and 23 bars will inspire guests to sample something new onboard.

The first 7-day cruises on the 13th member of the AIDA fleet will take guests to the Canaries from December 2018. AIDA Cruises will announce further details of the new generation of ships over the coming months.

Crystal's Alaska Season Offers Adventures For Families
Crystal Serenity's Alaska voyages are offering far more than the comprehensive exploration of the Last Frontier that has drawn luxury travelers to the region for years. For all seven 2017 Alaska cruises aboard the award-winning vessel, luxury travelers can enjoy a host of value propositions and savings that specifically apply to families traveling with children and multiple generations. The voyages sail between Vancouver and Anchorage from June through August on seven-, nine- and 10-day itineraries that call in some of the region's most spectacular destinations.

Crystal Serenity in Glacier BayCrystal's "Kids Sail Free" offer allows kids age 17 and under to sail in a complimentary third berth with two full-fare adults, while the "Crystal Memories" program affords additional perks for larger families traveling together, with one free berth for every 10 full-fare guests and shipboard credit for each guest. Additionally, "Crystal Clear Choices" allow travelers to tailor the savings to best suit their needs, with the option to select shipboard credit, air credit, or cruise fare savings.

"Summer voyages to Alaska have always been a favorite among families with children, who are seeking close-to-home adventure with all the luxuries included in the Crystal Experience," says Crystal Chairman, CEO and President Edie Rodriguez. "These savings opportunities make a family vacation with the best in the world even more appealing for guests who crave the natural wonders that are so abundant in Alaska."

Aboard Crystal Serenity, junior cruisers enjoy numerous entertainment and enrichment options, just as their parents do, with dedicated facilities and programs for younger kids and teens. Fantasia and Waves were redesigned in 2016 and are fully equipped with arts and crafts, dozens of games appropriate for all ages, plush spacious seating areas and flat-screen TVs for movie nights and interactive play on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Wii, and Xbox One. Junior Activities Directors curate specialized programming throughout summer voyages related to the destinations, bringing the travel experience to life for children.

Ashore, there are dozens of Crystal Adventures ashore that showcase this natural beauty in ways to suit virtually any interest, from virtually every vantage point – by air, land, sea and even glacier. Dogsledding camp visit and trekking through Tongass National Forest, will increase guests' heartrates, while numerous flightseeing opportunities to explore the majestic glaciers of the region and several whale-watching and educational wildlife experiences highlight the delicate magnificence of the remarkable landscapes.

Disney Cruise Line Offers New Destinations in Summer 2018
In summer 2018, Disney Cruise Line will sail on new itineraries and to new ports, including first-time visits to destinations in Italy and Ireland. Disney Cruise Line takes guests on a grand tour of Europe with visits to the Mediterranean, northern Europe, Norway and Iceland. Plus, adventures continue with sailings to Alaska, the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

New sailings from Rome and Barcelona

For the first time, Disney Cruise Line guests can experience the rich culture of Barcelona and inspiring history of Rome as bookend experiences in a single cruise.

Disney Cruise Line Offers New Destinations in Summer 2018In Rome, guests can explore the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican, and sample authentic local cuisine. Barcelona offers beautiful beaches, the market streets of Las Ramblas, the artistic architecture of Gaudi and the famed Sagrada Família church.

On June 16, 2018, the Disney Magic will sail a seven-night cruise from Barcelona to Civitavecchia (Rome). Ports of call include Marseilles and Villefranche, France; and Genoa (Milan), Livorno (Florence, Pisa) and Naples, Italy.

On June 23, 2018, the Disney Magic will sail a seven-night itinerary from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Barcelona. Ports visited on this cruise are Naples, Livorno (Florence, Pisa) and Genoa (Milan), Italy; and Cannes and Marseilles, France.

First-time visits to Milan, Italy

Disney Cruise Line will call on Genoa, Italy for the first time in 2018, as part of three special sailings from Barcelona and Civitavecchia (Rome). The historic port town of Genoa, located on the Italian Riviera, is a gateway to the beautiful metropolis of Milan and the picturesque locale of Portofino. Milan is a global capital of fashion and design, featuring top-name designer stores, boutiques, open-air markets and art galleries.

A 10-night Mediterranean itinerary sailing from Barcelona on July 7, 2018, calls on Genoa, as well as other popular ports in Italy, France and Spain.

First-time visit to Cork, Ireland and first seven-night British Isles

The Disney Magic will call on Cork, Ireland for the first time as part of Disney Cruise Line's first-ever seven-night British Isles cruise, departing on Sept. 2, 2018. Additional ports visited on this sailing include Dublin, Ireland; Greenock, Scotland; and Liverpool, England.

Cork is home to a vibrant culinary scene and a plethora of pubs, shops and cafes. It invites visitors to connect with Ireland's ancient past, with historic sites like Blarney Castle, where visitors can kiss the famed Blarney Stone.

Throughout the summer, the Disney Magic's tour of Europe continues with engagements in the Baltic, Norwegian fjords, British Isles and the Mediterranean.

Return to Alaska

In 2018, the newly re-imagined Disney Wonder will return to Alaska for the summer season, opening up a world of breathtaking natural vistas, magnificent glaciers and awe-inspiring wildlife. A variety of five-, seven- and nine-night itineraries will depart from Vancouver, Canada, with stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point and Tracy Arm Fjord.

Southern Caribbean special sailing

The Disney Fantasy will embark on a special 11-night southern Caribbean itinerary departing June 30, 2018, visiting tropical destinations, renowned for beautiful sun-kissed beaches, including Aruba, Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico and the Disney private island, Castaway Cay.

Castaway Cay: More opportunities to explore Disney's exclusive private island

Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas, is consistently a top-rated destination. In 2018, the Disney Dream will sail a series of cruises that include two stops at Castaway Cay so guests can have twice the fun in the sun and enjoy even more of the pristine island paradise.

On June 6, 20, and July 4, the Disney Dream will sail from Port Canaveral, Fla., on four-night cruises to Nassau, Bahamas, plus two stops at Castaway Cay.

On June 1, 10, 15, 24, 29, and July 8, the Disney Dream will sail from Port Canaveral, Fla., on five-night cruises to Nassau, Bahamas, plus two stops at Castaway Cay.

Princess Cruises Announces Fourth Ship to Debut Medallion Class Ocean Vacations
Princess Cruises announced today that Island Princess will be the fourth cruise ship to feature the Ocean Medallion, debuting May 16, 2018 for the Alaska season. The wearable device powered by a first-of-its-kind interactive technology platform within the One Cruise Experience Access Network™ (O·C·E·A·N™), enables a new level of personalization and delivers an enhanced guest experience not previously available in the global vacation industry.

Carnival Corporation Introduces Ocean MedallionUnveiled by Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald during his opening keynote last month at CES 2017, Princess Cruises is the first Carnival Corporation brand to debut this groundbreaking innovation. The Ocean Medallion is the only accessory needed to elevate the guest experience on cruises by offering unparalleled customer service.

Island Princess joins three other cruise ships scheduled to debut Medallion Class Ocean Vacations -- Regal Princess on November 13, 2017, followed by Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess in early 2018, and Island Princess starting on May 16, 2018. The Medallion Class Alaska cruise will set sail on the top-rated Voyage of the Glaciers seven-day itinerary between Vancouver and Anchorage (Whittier), with a trip to the state's best glacial waters including Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"As the leading cruise line in Alaska, it's fitting that our fourth ship to feature Medallion Class Ocean Vacations is Island Princess," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "Sailing on our most popular Voyage of the Glaciers itinerary, our guests will enjoy the best Alaska has to offer and enjoy an elevated cruise vacation experience -- connecting each other and the extraordinary people and culture of the 'Great Land' in a more memorable way."

Medallion Class makes cruising more personal, immersive, simple and seamless than previously considered possible. At the heart of this personalized experience is the Ocean Medallion, which enables endless vacation possibilities. The Ocean Medallion has no discernible technology – no on-off switch, no charging, no menu to navigate – and can be worn as a pendant, on a wristband, in a clip or simply placed in a pocket to reveal enhanced services and personalized experiences without guests having to push a button or take any action. The pre-cruise engagement will allow guests to provide preferences that detail their wants, needs and desires so that their onboard experience can be personalized.

Pairing with the Ocean Medallion is the Ocean Compass™ - a digital concierge accessible by all guests using interactive displays throughout the ship, on stateroom TVs, via guests' own smart devices, or through a crew member. For example, guests can find their way to venues around the ship; make reservations at the Lotus Spa, specialty dining restaurants and shore excursions; arrange celebrations; view photographs; learn about the destinations they will visit and activities at each port of call and more. The Ocean Compass will invite guests to experiences based on their individual needs, wants and desires.

Some of the initial service innovations include:

• Ocean Ready™: Expedites embarkation as required information is added to the guest profile at home.

• Stateroom Access: The Ocean Medallion will unlock a guest's stateroom door – replacing the key card.

• HERE & NOW™: Guests can place food and beverage orders and have them delivered to select locations.

• THERE & THEN™: Guests can place select food and beverage orders and have them delivered to where they plan to be at a designated time.

• Ocean Navigate: Accessed through the Ocean Compass, guests can learn the whereabouts of their family as they enjoy activities throughout the ship and be guided seamlessly in finding their way around the ship. Friends and family will also be able to easily communicate with each other through a seamless messaging service.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 55.40 - 1.88%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 95.21 - 1.34%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.33 - 1.69%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.69 - 0.38%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which commercial steamship company handled the passenger and cargo operations for the N/S SAVANNAH, America's only nuclear powered merchant vessel?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
When she returned to service after the Falklands War in 1982, Queen Elizabeth 2 was noticeably different in appearance. What were the two changes made to the ship?

Answer - The hull was no longer Federal Grey but Pale grey and the funnel suported the traditional Cunard red with two black stripes, original was white
courtesy of Malcolm Scanlan


Cruise News - February 13, 2017

Carnival Paradise To Sail To Havana, Cuba From Tampa Beginning In June 2017
Following the history-making launch of cruises from the U.S. to Cuba on Carnival Corporation's Fathom brand last year, the company's namesake and largest cruise brand -- Carnival Cruise Line -- has now received approval to sail to Cuba. The Cuban capital of Havana will be added to select Carnival Paradise voyages from Tampa beginning in June 2017.

The overnight visits to Havana will be featured on 12 four- and five-day cruises aboard Carnival Paradise departing from the Port of Tampa starting June 29, 2017, providing vacationers with a rare and exciting opportunity to explore this fascinating and previously off-limits destination.

Carnival Paradise To Sail To Havana, Cuba From Tampa Beginning In June 2017 BORDER=Four-day cruises will depart June 29, July 13, August 24, September 7 and 21, and October 5 and 19, 2017 as well as May 3, 2018 and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana. Five-day voyages will depart August 14 and 28, September 25 and October 9, 2017, and include a daytime and overnight visit to Havana as well as a stop in either Cozumel or Key West.

Carnival Paradise guests will be able to choose from a range of exciting shore excursion experiences that showcase Cuba's vibrant culture and majestic beauty, along with the island's warm and friendly people and centuries-old architectural landmarks.

"Cuba is an island jewel unique from anywhere else in the Caribbean and we are thrilled to have this rare opportunity to take our guests to this fascinating destination," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "The opportunity to visit Havana, combined with the fun, relaxed ambiance and wide variety of amenities and features offered on Carnival Paradise, will make for a truly one-of-a-kind vacation experience," she added.

Aboard Carnival Paradise, guests can enjoy an array of amenities and a full schedule of daytime activities and nighttime entertainment. A variety of dining options include two full-service main dining rooms and expansive poolside choices. The ship also features a 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health and wellness facility and an exclusive Serenity adults-only retreat. Popular family-friendly programming includes Seuss at Sea in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises and featuring the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends and fun, supervised activities for kids in three age groups. Four swimming pools and a 115-foot-long water slide are additional features.

The visits to Havana comply with regulations of the U.S. Department of Treasury that permit travel operators to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Oceania Cruises Reveals Late 2017 Voyages To Cuba
Oceania Cruises announced an additional series of journeys to Cuba in November and December 2017. Ranging in length from six to thirteen days with departures from Miami, these voyages include the line's first calls to Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, in addition to Havana. These new itineraries will open for reservations today, 15 February 2017.

Oceania Cruises Reveals Late 2017 Voyages To Cuba"There is tremendous demand from consumers for voyages to Cuba and our inaugural voyages to the island have been a sell-out success," stated Bob Binder, President & CEO of Oceania Cruises. "An Oceania Cruises voyage is the best way to experience all Cuba has to offer with nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, warm and welcoming people, and a burgeoning culinary scene."

All voyages and excursions will fully comply with existing U.S. Federal Regulations and the most recent pronouncements from the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Shipboard Highlights - Sailing to Cuba with Oceania Cruises is a journey into the extraordinary. Aboard the acclaimed Insignia, there are only 684 privileged guests who are catered to by 400 professionally trained staff. Travelers will indulge in the Finest Cuisine at Sea in four open seating gourmet restaurants where they will dine on continental specialties along with the bold and vibrant tastes of Cuba. Each of these voyages will feature a wide array of authentic Cuban dishes that were born from generations-old family recipes. Adding to the enriching nature of the journey, authoritative and engaging experts will deliver lectures on Cuban history, art, and music or perhaps you'll join a group of your fellow travelers in a Cuban staple, the game of Dominos. Throughout the journey, Insignia is a bastion of modernity and old-world comfort. Her 342 staterooms and suites are elegantly appointed and 70% of them have their own private teak veranda, the perfect perch from which to take in stunning Caribbean seascapes.

Itinerary Highlights

• Panoramic Caribbean – 10 days from Miami visiting Havana (two days), Roatan, Santo Tomas, Harvest Caye, Costa Maya, and Nassau. Departs 14 November.

• Hemingway's Hideaways – 7 days from Miami visiting Key West, Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba. Departs 24 November.

• Timeless Cuba – 7 days from Miami visiting Havana (two days), Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba. Departs 1 & 8 December.

• Vibrant Vistas – 6 days from Miami visiting Key West, Havana, Cozumel, and Great Stirrup Cay. Departs 15 December.

• Holidays in the Tropics – 13 days from Miami visiting Key West, Havana (two days), Roatan, Santo Tomas, Harvest Caye, Costa Maya, Cozumel (two days), and Nassau. Departs 21 December.

Destination Highlights

Havana, Cuba
The door to Cuba's soul, Havana captivates with its larger-than-life culture, sultry rhythms and weathered beauty. Take a relaxing stroll along the evocative Malecón, the quintessentially Cuban thoroughfare and get lost among the Baroque facades and colonial cobblestone alleys of Old Havana. Visit the grandiose Capitolio Nacional and explore the world-class Cuban art collection at Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, which showcases everything from colonial-era paintings to countless masterpieces from Cuba's famed Vanguard Period. Enjoy memorable explorations such as touring one of Havana's venerable old cigar factories for an inside look at the birthplace of these world-famous cigars and the centuries-old process of how they are made.

Cienfuegos, Cuba
Situated in a beautiful bay in the heart of Cuba's fertile agricultural region on the southern coast, Cienfuegos will quietly charm you with its French spirit, tranquil seaside setting and neoclassical architecture. Known as La Perla del Sur (the Pearl of the South), Cienfuegos was originally founded by French settlers and its city center is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Rich in educationally engaging diversions, its historic center features well-preserved 19th-century structures, gorgeous plazas and a layout inspired by the Spanish Enlightenment. Discover the ornate and eclectic Palacio de Valle and take in the stunning views as you explore Punta Gorda, the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset. Step back in time at Teatro Terry with a performance by local artists or discover nearby Trinidad, a remarkably well-preserved colonial town recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and anchored by its impressive Plaza Mayor, an open-air museum of Spanish colonial architecture.

Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
A tropical and energetic cultural epicenter, Santiago de Cuba is the country's second largest city and has played an instrumental role in the evolution of Cuban music, literature and architecture. Wedged between the looming Sierra Maestra mountain range and the aquamarine Caribbean Sea, the city offers a plethora of rich heritage and cultural diversions amidst a dramatic backdrop. Discover the city's fascinating history at Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca and the Cementerio Santa Ifigenia, where Cuban hero José Martí and Emilio Bacardí Moreau of the famed rum dynasty are both buried. Countless musicians have emerged from Santiago de Cuba including Miguel Matamoros of Trío Matamoros and Sindo Garay, and many say the heart of this thriving city lives in its music scene.

Carnival Dream Undergoes Multi-Million-Dollar Renovation
The New Orleans-based Carnival Dream recently completed an extensive makeover that added a variety of exciting food and beverage concepts.

Oceania Cruises Reveals Late 2017 Voyages To CubaFollowing the renovation, which took place in Freeport, The Bahamas, the 130,000-ton ship yesterday resumed its year-round schedule of seven-day Caribbean cruises from the Big Easy.

The new spaces include:

• Guy's Pig & Anchor Barbeque Smokehouse: Designed by Food Network star Guy Fieri, the open-air free-of-charge venue offers a variety of BBQ favorites with a menu that includes Championship Pork Butt, Blue Ribbon Chicken, smoked Andouille sausage and Sliced Smoked Round of Beef, and Fieri's own take on traditional sides. The eatery complements the popular Guy's Burger Joints featured on Carnival Dream and 13 other Carnival ships.
• BlueIguana Cantina: A complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic, freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar.
• Alchemy Bar: A "cocktail pharmacy"-themed lounge with mixologists dressed in lab coats who "prescribe" concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients with creative monikers like Forty is the New Twenty and The Restorative Basil Drop.
• Pizzeria del Capitano: Here, guests can enjoy five different varieties of hand-tossed, artisanal-style pizza, including Margherita, quattro formaggio, mushroom, prosciutto and pepperoni – all free of charge 24 hours a day and made in a traditional pizza oven.
• Bonsai Sushi: A full-service sushi restaurant offering delicious Asian-inspired delicacies -- sushi, sashimi, rolls and more, along with popular beers and cocktails from the region -- all enjoyed amidst a striking contemporary décor inspired by the Far East.

These additions complement Carnival Dream's wide variety of onboard innovations, including a massive WaterWorks aqua park featuring a 304-foot-long water slide, a Serenity adults-only retreat, a luxurious Cloud 9 Spa with a thalassotherapy pool and thermal suite, and Ocean Plaza, a stunning indoor/outdoor live music and entertainment venue. Carnival Dream also offers Seuss at Sea, an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, as well as play spaces for kids in three age groups. A variety of accommodation categories – including nearly 900 balcony cabins and extra-roomy family staterooms that sleep up to five guests – are available, as well.

Carnival Dream operates year-round seven-day cruises from New Orleans offering three distinctly different itineraries – western Caribbean cruises visiting Montego Bay, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman; or Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), Belize and Cozumel; and a Bahamas/Florida route calling at Key West, Freeport and Nassau.

Explore Hidden Glacier Bay Aboard Seabourn during 2017 Cruise Season In Alaska
There are so many natural wonders for guests to behold on a Seabourn cruise to Alaska, but nothing quite like the mysterious and exotic Glacier Bay. As the world's finest ultra-luxury cruise line returns to The Last Frontier starting this May, Seabourn will provide a select number of opportunities for guests to witness the icy beauty of the remote 3.3 million-acre wilderness area with five separate sailings into Glacier Bay aboard Seabourn Sojourn over the 2017 season ahead.

Oceania Cruises Reveals Late 2017 Voyages To CubaA U.S. National Park and Preserve that is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Glacier Bay is located along the Inside Passage on the southeastern coast of Alaska. The park encompasses 5,130 square miles of wilderness dotted with vast waterways, dynamic glaciers, emerald rainforests, striking coastlines, deep sheltered fjords, and snow-capped peaks. A vibrant ecosystem made up of terrestrial and marine species, the abundant wildlife includes grizzly and black bears, mountain goats, numerous bird species, sea lions, harbor porpoises, orcas, humpback whales and many more. Glaciers are geared for dramatic displays of ice and iceberg formation, including calving of icebergs into the bay – a wonder of sight, sound, and splash that is not to be missed.

"Whatever the region we're exploring, Seabourn always strives to offer the most enriching experiences to our guests," said Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn. "Taking them to see the wonders of Glacier Bay is a fitting way to return to Alaska for the first time in a decade-and-a-half."

With no roads leading into the park, air and water are the only ways to explore Glacier Bay. As such, a cruise ship is an ideal way to visit one of the world's largest international protected areas.

Seabourn Sojourn's 2017 cruise schedule offering access to Glacier Bay includes:

• 21-Day Kuroshio Route & Alaska: Kobe, Japan to Seattle (May 11-27)

• 11-Day Ultimate Alaskan Sojourn: Vancouver to Seward (Jun 1-12. Additional itineraries include Jun 26-Jul 7; Jul 21-Aug 1; and Aug 15-26)

Whatever the itinerary, Seabourn guests are guaranteed adventure in Alaska with new optional shore excursions and Ventures by Seabourn guided kayak and Zodiac tours led by teams of scientists, scholars and naturalists that bring the awe-inspiring beauty of Alaska and British Columbia alive. The up-close explorations will be featured on Seabourn Sojourn's full series of 11-14 day itineraries sailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, and Anchorage (Seward), Alaska. A glimpse of the Ventures by Seabourn tours in Alaska can be viewed here.

Seabourn's ships circle the globe throughout the year and include more than 150 designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in its itineraries. Through its multi-year partnership with UNESCO, Seabourn offers deeper insight and behind-the-scenes information about current and future World Heritage sites and projects. The line has created special World Heritage Discovery Tours with exclusive and enhanced content developed in cooperation with UNESCO World Heritage site managers and tour experts. Fares for Seabourn optional excursions that include UNESCO World Heritage Sites include a small donation to UNESCO's World Heritage Fund.

Carnival Splendor To Operate 14-Day Alaska Cruise Round-Trip From Long Beach In August 2018
Continuing the expansion of its popular Carnival Journeys longer duration enrichment sailings, Carnival Splendor will offer a 14-day Alaskan adventure round-trip from Long Beach, Calif., featuring awe-inspiring sites such as majestic Hubbard Glacier and a day-long visit to Icy Strait Point, an unspoiled wilderness area offering some of the best whale and bear watching in the state and the world's longest zip-line.

Carnival Splendor To Operate 14-Day Alaska Cruise Round-Trip From Long Beach In August 2018The voyage will depart Long Beach and Aug. 25 and return Sept. 8, 2018.

In addition to a full day at Hubbard Glacier and Icy Strait Point, the 14-day cruise will feature the spectacular destinations of Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and Sitka, Alaska, along with a day-long call at Victoria, British Columbia.

In addition to unique cultural opportunities and historic landmarks, each of these destinations offers awe-inspiring natural wonders, including calving glaciers, magnificent fjords and native sea and animal life. A wide variety of shore excursions – from helicopter flightseeing and rainforest canopy tours to hiking, canoeing and kayaking expeditions, and alpine lake snorkeling – will also be available.

The 14-day Carnival Journeys Alaska cruise will also feature unique on-board experiences where guests can enjoy local cuisine, entertainment and cultural opportunities within the various ports of call. Activities focusing topics such as photography, cooking and arts and crafts and a 1980s-themed "Throwback Sea Day" will be offered, as well.

Guests aboard Carnival Splendor can also enjoy the ship's many onboard features and amenities, including a classic American-style steakhouse, the luxurious Cloud 9 Spa, and a retractable dome covering the main pool area that also houses the ship's massive Seaside Theatre LED screen. Kids can have an amazing cruise experience with supervised programs catering to three age groups – Camp Ocean (2-11), Circle "C" (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17), along with fun activities that are part of Seuss at Sea, an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

The 14-day Carnival Splendor cruise complements the line's wide-ranging Alaska schedule that includes a two-week-long voyage round-trip from Long Beach aboard Carnival Miracle in September 2017 and 38 seven- and eight-day voyages aboard Carnival Legend in summer and fall 2017-18. Several of the seven-day cruises feature a day cruising Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO Heritage Site.

"Beauty and the Beast" to Become a Brand-New Stage Spectacular Aboard Disney Cruise Line
A tale as old as time gets ready to take the stage with "Beauty and the Beast," a brand-new musical production inspired by Disney's live-action adaptation of the animated classic. The show will expand upon the most imaginative elements of the highly anticipated live-action and classic films and delight Disney Cruise Line guests aboard the Disney Dream, beginning this November.

Beauty and the Beast to Become a Brand-New Stage Spectacular Aboard Disney Cruise LineAudiences will once again fall in love with the enchanting fairytale as they embark on a sweeping journey to discover the power of transformation through true love and courage. This new production of "Beauty and the Beast" celebrates the romance, adventure and magic of the live-action film, weaving in the charm and nostalgia of the award-winning animated feature.

"Beauty and the Beast" will bring the timeless fable to life like never before, featuring a style of theater that interlaces classic storytelling elements with cutting-edge technology, to create a unique, theatrical experience in the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre. An innovative take on the story will transform renowned songs into spectacular, show-stopping numbers, and lavish costumes and puppetry will bring a fresh perspective to beloved characters.

Re-imagining a tale as old as time

Drawing inspiration from the live-action film, the stage musical uses the scenic motif of a music box to guide spectators through the story. Set designer, Jason Sherwood ("Paint Your Wagon," "Frozen, A Musical Spectacular"), worked in concert with video designer, Aaron Rhyne ("Frozen, A Musical Spectacular," Broadway's "Anastasia"), to create a transforming set that will take audiences on a magical journey through the music box, from Belle's provincial French town to the Beast's mysterious castle.

To bring "Beauty and the Beast" to the stage, Disney assembled an all-star creative team, led by director and choreographer Connor Gallagher ("Tangled: The Musical," "Found"). Gallagher collaborated with writer Sara Wordsworth ("Frozen, A Musical Spectacular," Broadway's "In Transit") and a talented collection of Broadway artists to create an imaginative, new approach to this iconic story.

Through a combination of high-definition projections, dynamic scenery and a little bit of Disney magic, this new interpretation of "Beauty and the Beast" will create a visual panorama that reaches beyond the stage and into the audience. Complementing the immersive set, lighting design by four-time Tony Award-nominated, Japhy Weideman, punctuates the powerful emotions of the classic tale.

Orchestrating a song as old as rhyme

"Beauty and the Beast" features songs from the original animated film's award-winning soundtrack by acclaimed composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman. Complementing the score, the show also includes two of the new songs created for the live-action film by Menken and lyricist Tim Rice, "How Does a Moment Last Forever" and "Days in the Sun." Enchanting arrangements and orchestrations by Matt Castle and Frank Galgano ("Into the Woods") will bring a unique musical identity to the production.

Beloved songs like "Belle," "Something There" and "Beauty and the Beast" will receive a musical makeover that reflect the show's stylized approach, while songs like "Gaston" and "Be Our Guest" will leap to the stage as joyful and exuberant production numbers.

One of the most iconic songs in the Disney canon has been completely re-imagined for the stage. "Be Our Guest" is becoming a multi-course French dinner rooted in imagination and fantasy. Rousing choreography and dazzling visual effects will fill the stage during this full-fledged spectacle.

Unveiling the magic of the enchanted objects

Blurring the line between costuming and puppetry, costume designer Sarah Cubbage (Broadway's "Skylight") and puppet designer Lake Simons ("Etiquette Unraveled") joined forces to give life to the enchanted objects of "Beauty and the Beast." Beloved characters like Lumiere, Mrs. Potts and Cogsworth are realized in an unprecedented way, using innovative puppetry and elaborate costumes to bring these characters to life in their true scale.

"Beauty and the Beast" will debut during the Disney Dream voyage departing Nov. 6, 2017, joining an incredible lineup of Broadway-style stage productions aboard the ship, including "The Golden Mickeys" and "Disney's Believe." The Disney Dream sails three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral, Fla.

The Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures live-action film "Beauty and the Beast" premieres in theaters March 17, on land and at sea aboard Disney Cruise Line ships.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 56.46 + 1.73%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 96.50 + 1.78%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.37 + 1.28%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.87 + 0.74%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When she returned to service after the Falklands War in 1982, Queen Elizabeth 2 was noticeably different in appearance. What were the two changes made to the ship?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the largest passenger ship to ever fly the U.S. flag as her registry and ownership?

Answer - The largest passenger ship to ever fly the U.S. flag is the Pride of America for NCL.
courtesy of Byron Clayton, Singapore


Cruise News - February 6, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line Extends Sailings To Cuba Through December 2017
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that it will extend its offering of weekly roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba aboard Norwegian Sky, the largest vessel sailing to Cuba, through December 2017. Together with the five previously announced cruises in May 2017, these 25 additional cruises, which start in June 2017, all feature an overnight stay in Cuba's historical and culturally-rich capital of Havana.

Norwegian Cruise Line Extends Sailings To Cuba Through December 2017"We are thrilled to be the first cruise line able to offer weekly sailings from Miami to Cuba through the fall of 2017, all with overnights in the beautiful city of Havana" said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. "We have seen great demand from our guests for sailings to Cuba and we look forward to providing more opportunities for them to experience this incredibly culture-rich destination on a weekly basis."

Norwegian Sky will sail four-day roundtrip cruises from Miami each Monday, featuring an overnight in the capital of Havana as well as a call on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island in the Bahamas. The ship will dock right in the heart of Havana, offering guests the opportunity to visit historical sites such as Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; view incredible art and listen to the vibrant local music scene; and visit with Cuba's warm and friendly residents through people-to-people exchanges. Norwegian will offer a selection of 15 half and full-day OFAC-compliant shore excursions, where guests aboard Norwegian Sky will have the opportunity to have a farm to table dining experience, explore the Flora and Fauna of Soroa, see Modern Havana in an American Classic Car and much more.

Norwegian Sky's sailings to Cuba will also feature a call to Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island destination in the Bahamas that was recently enhanced to offer guests exciting new ways to enjoy the island, with additional features to be added through summer 2017. Great Stirrup Cay is a private island paradise, with white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, watersports galore and lushly landscaped beachside cabanas available for daily rental for those who wish to have a more exclusive island experience.

Along with the freedom and flexibility that only Norwegian Cruise Line can provide, guests sailing on Norwegian Sky will also enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages as a part of the ship's all-inclusive program.

Royal Caribbean Opens New Sailings To Cuba
Guests looking to dive deeper into the culture and nightlife of Cuba will now have the opportunity to experience the island at night on Empress of the Seas’ new sailings to Havana. Royal Caribbean International has expanded its Caribbean itineraries sailing from Tampa, to include new 4- and 5-night cruises with day and overnight visits to Havana, along with stops in Key West, FL. and Cozumel, Mexico. The new sailings are available through Nov. 4, 2017, and all sailings are now open for sale.

Royal Caribbean Opens New Sailings To CubaVisiting Cuba with Royal Caribbean means guests can enjoy authentic people-to-people experiences curated to immerse them in the natural beauty and rich culture of the island. Adventures include taking a trip back to the 1950s in a classic American car to tour Havana, with stops at the historic and luxurious Hotel Nacional de Cuba and the Plaza de Revolución, as well as a scenic drive along the island’s famous Malecón waterfront. For guests who want to immerse themselves even more during their time in Cuba, a walking tour offers a close-up experience of the city’s most famous locales, including the old quarter and the Havana Club Museum, a renowned rum producer housed in an 18th-century colonial mansion. For those intrigued by literary greats, a unique excursion will take them to novelist Ernest Hemingway’s favorite haunts, including where he lived, fished, dined and sipped his favorite cocktails.

In the evenings, travelers can experience another side of Cuba – its diverse nightlife. From visiting the famous Tropicana Club to enjoying a performance by the Buena Vista Social Club or witnessing the family friendly ceremonial cannon firing at El Cañonazo, guests can enjoy the sights and sounds of Cuba after dark.

The vibrant Cuban culture extends beyond land to the experience onboard Empress of the Seas. From cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal to salsa music and dancing in the Boleros Latin lounge, guests will have a range of onboard activities developed to bring the spirit of the island to life throughout the entire journey.

Seafood Shack Casual Eateries Added to Seven Carnival Cruise Line Ships
Seafood Shack Casual Eateries Added to Seven Carnival Cruise Line ShipsFollowing the incredible success of the New England-inspired Seafood Shack eatery that debuted aboard Carnival Vista, the concept has been expanded to seven additional ships throughout the fleet.

Located within the ships’ poolside Lido restaurants, the a la carte dining venue offers a variety of fresh-from-the-sea delicacies, including lobster rolls, lobster BLTs, crab cake sliders, fish and chips, and a fried seafood platter with shrimp, clams, calamari, and fish.

There are also buckets of fried buffalo shrimp and fried clams or a combination featuring both items. Diners can also enjoy steamed lobster, snow crab, and peel and eat shrimp, and oysters, all available at market price.

In addition to Carnival Vista, Seafood Shacks are currently featured aboard Carnival Liberty from Port Canaveral, Carnival Glory and Carnival Victory from Miami, Carnival Conquest from Fort Lauderdale, and Carnival Freedom, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Valor from Galveston.

Cunard Sponsors 2017 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
Cunard today announced its sponsorship of the 2017 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, taking place in New York City February 11-14, 2017. This is the first year Cunard will be part of the show and they will be the only travel company represented at the show. In addition, the 2017 Best in Show winner and owner will be offered an invitation to sail on a Transatlantic Crossing on Cunard's Queen Mary 2.

Cunard Sponsors 2017 Westminster Kennel Club Dog ShowOwners and dogs who stop by Cunard's booth at Pier 94 will get a glimpse into the luxurious life aboard flagship ocean liner Queen Mary 2. Cunard bellmen will be on-hand to greet pups with specially-made doggy treats and canine apparel, and @WallytheWelshCorgi, one of NYC's top Instagram dogs, will make a special appearance to take photos with attendees in front of an oversized backdrop of Queen Mary 2. Wally is attending Westminster Week as a member of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America (PWCCA), an organization that promotes the responsible breeding of Pembroke Welsh Corgis.

"Cunard is proud to sponsor the iconic Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City," said Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president, Cunard North America. "Both brands have a long history of supporting our four-legged friends, and we are thrilled to be part of this tradition for dogs and dog lovers."

As the only cruise line to offer dogs and cats passage on the company's famed Transatlantic Crossings, Cunard has a long history of sailing pets -- its pet-friendly policy dates back 176 years to the maiden voyage of the Britannia in 1840. Since then, the company has transported a surprising number of notable pets: Rin-Tin-Tin, Elizabeth Taylor's pampered pooches, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's beloved pup and Pudsey, winner of Britain's Got Talent 2012. It was at the Duke's behest that Cunard originally installed a lamppost beside the kennels on Cunard's former flagship Queen Elizabeth 2.

"We are delighted to be working with Cunard at this year's show," said Gail Miller Bisher, director of communications, The Westminster Kennel Club. "This premiere cruise line offers pet owners an opportunity to travel with their dogs in a comfortable and safe manner and we look forward to a long relationship with them."

Pet travel continues to soar in the United States and due to increased demand, Cunard doubled the size of its kennels on Queen Mary 2 during the flagship's $132 million renovation last year. In addition, the ship expanded the kennel area, adding an owner's lounge and a new pet playground. Guests can enjoy an extended outdoor area for dog walking featuring a lamppost from Liverpool and fire hydrant from New York so dogs from both sides of the pond will feel at home. Overall, Queen Mary 2's enhanced pet service offers a kinder, gentler alternative to pet transportation.

To ensure that pet passengers are as glamorous as their human counterparts, Cunard partnered with the British sportswear brand Barbour in 2016 to offer smart accessories onboard such as jackets, collars and leashes.

Packing for Cruise Vacation: Here's How to Look Sharp While Keeping Luggage Light
Among the things you are thinking about when gearing up for a cruise vacation, the prospect of seeing exciting new places, relaxing and having fun should all be at the top of your list. So why do we all worry so much about what to pack?

With little effort you can put together an appropriate wardrobe and look stylish on your cruise vacation. Easing the cause is that ships are a lot less fussy about formality than they were even a few years ago. Casual is the order of the day with opportunity to dress up at night, but only if you want to.

Packing for Cruise Vacation: Here's How to Look Sharp While Keeping Luggage LightCruise lines all offer plenty of packing advice on their websites and in printed materials. You can also draw strong hints of how your fellow passengers might dress by looking at the photos on cruise line websites and brochures – this is at least a peek at how each line envisions its passengers dressing.

If you have further questions on what to wear, ask a friend who has cruised on the line or check message boards. Pinterest is also a great resource for creative cruise fashion ideas, or check out the many selfies on Instagram.

Once on the ship, you'll find suggested attire for each evening listed in the daily newsletter. The suggestion, which may or may not involve dressing up a little, applies to the main dining room and some specialty restaurants. On many ships you have the option of staying in your shorts or jeans and eating at the buffet and other casual dining outlets.

Choose to dress to the hilt every night if you want – there is no such thing as overdressing. If you are a fashionista and want to stand out in the crowd or the kind of guy who feels more comfortable wearing a jacket to dinner, go for it!

For those who like to put on the Ritz, cruise lines such as Princess Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, Seabourn and P&O Cruises UK provide opportunity at designated "formal" or "gala" nights. But don't let the terms scare you, says Fern Mallis, founder of New York Fashion Week.

These days you have a lot of leeway when it comes to "formal" attire. Skip the jeans and sneakers but beyond that anything goes, says Mallis, who recently lectured on the Queen Mary 2 during Cunard's first annual Transatlantic Fashion Week.

While some passengers may wear a tux or ball gown and look like they just stepped out of a James Bond movie, dark suits and cocktail dresses or nice pantsuits are also perfectly acceptable.

"Something sparkly is always a good bet," Mallis says.

When it comes to packing for your cruise you are free to bring as much luggage as you like, especially if you are driving to a nearby homeport to catch your ship. However, guests flying to a port city may want to consider airline baggage fees and weight restrictions.

Fortunately, packing light doesn't mean you can't still be fashionable.

"I recommend for travelers to stay focused, stick with one color and maybe accent with a shawl or some bold jewelry," says Mallis.

The classical nautical look in white or blue is always in-style on cruise ships, she adds.

Weather in your destination and your personal comfort should be a consideration when putting together your cruise wardrobe. You'll want your mittens in Alaska and maybe an extra bathing suit in the Caribbean.

If you forget something or just feel like refreshing your wardrobe, shipboard shops have you covered with fashion selections.

On Princess Cruises ships you can even check out fashions from The Shops of Princess, as modeled by your fellow guests, during The Runway fashion show held in the atrium (if you'd like to be a model yourself, sign up onboard to participate). The fashion show is part of the line's Style at Sea program, offering fashion and beauty tips in partnership with the TLC TV Network.

Cruise ships have even inspired those in the world of high fashion. For her "J Autumn Fashion Show 2016" in October, for instance, model and entrepreneur Jessica Minh Anh set up a catwalk on the sundeck of Germany-based AIDA Cruises' AIDAluna docked in New York, with a breathtaking view of Manhattan as the magnificent backdrop. Her earlier shows included a catwalk on Italy-based Costa Cruises' Costa Luminosa in Sydney Harbour.

When packing for her transatlantic crossing from Southampton, England, to New York, Mallis, who has been at the heart of the fashion industry for more than 30 years, went with loose-fitting, comfortable clothing for daytime including elegant jersey hoodies and shawls. She had kaftans and lots of small, easy-to-pack accessories to spice things up at night.

"When it comes to accessories, more is better," she says. "Most people don't leave the house without lipstick on. I don't leave the house without accessorizing."

A fun trick to look fashionable at the pool is to dress up your bathing suit with a nice cover-up and some costume jewelry. You may even want to purchase local jewelry in the ports of call to reflect the regions where your ship is sailing.

Mallis said her accessory collection includes necklaces from around the world, which she likes to layer. She is also fond of colorful eyeglasses and sunglasses.

To keep clothing items fresh and wrinkle-free in your luggage, you may want to pack with tissue paper or plastic dry-cleaning bags, Mallis says. Rolling clothes such as t-shirts and underwear helps save space in your bag.

Cruise ships provide onboard dry cleaning, pressing and laundry service and many also have self-serve facilities with washers, dryers and irons, making it easy to perk up your clothes.

Nighttime on any ship, no matter the dress code, means a night out on the town. You can do cocktails, have dinner in a beautiful dining room, catch a show and hit the casino and otherwise partake in non-stop action. Or you can have a quiet date night for two, dining on gourmet fare with an ocean view.

For many people, dressing up a little is part of the fun. Get the whole family in party clothes and have one of the shipboard photographers snap a memorable family vacation photo.

Whether you go casual or more glamorous, it's important to keep in mind that the best way to look good on your cruise vacation is to be yourself.

"You can be wearing the chicest, most fashionable outfit, but if it's not you and the outfit is speaking instead of you shining through, it's all wrong," Mallis says. "It's most important to feel comfortable and confident in your clothes."

Cruise Packing Tips

• Consider the weather because while that Hawaiian shirt may be the perfect thing in the Caribbean, not so in Alaska.
• Even in the tropics, bring a sweater or shawl to keep you cozy in the ocean breezes and air-conditioned spaces.
• Sunglasses, a sun hat and sunscreen are a must because the sun shines bright on the ocean.
• Don't forget comfortable shoes or sneakers to wear on shore excursions.
• Go with lightweight fabrics so you can get more items in your luggage and still meet airline weight restrictions.
• Check your cruise line's website before you sail for what-to-wear recommendations, including mention of any dress-up nights.
• Once onboard, always take note of suggested nighttime attire.
• Save space in luggage by skipping items such as pool and beach towels, which are provided shipboard.
• Don't pack items that are prohibited, such as travel irons (check the cruise line's web site for list of prohibited items).
• Always keep essentials including your passport, medicine glasses and cruise documents close at hand in your carry-on.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 55.50 - 0.27%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 94.81 + 0.43%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.34 + 1.30%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 47.52 - 1.06%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the largest passenger ship to ever fly the U.S. flag as her registry and ownership?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Name the 1972 book and author that contributed significantly to the renewal of interest in ocean liners and cruise ships? Bonus Question: Name the follow-up book published in 1985.

Answer - The original book was "The Only Way to Cross" by John Maxtone-Graham and the follow up book published in 1985 was called "Liners to the Sun". A third book, "Crossing and Cruising" was subsequently published.
courtesy of Keith Brittin


Cruise News - January 30, 2017

Viking Ocean Cruises Takes Delivery Of Third Ship
Viking Ocean Cruises this week announced it took delivery of Viking Sky, the company's third ship. The delivery ceremony took place this morning when the ship was presented at Fincantieri's shipyard in Ancona, Italy. On February 25, Viking Sky will set sail from Rome's port at Civitavecchia and will make her way through the Mediterranean on her maiden voyage. After sailing spring itineraries throughout the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, Viking Sky will make her way to officially be christened under Norway's "midnight sun" on June 22 in Tromsø – a nod to Viking's Norwegian heritage. Following the christening, Viking Sky will continue her maiden season sailing itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic before crossing the Atlantic in September on her way to the Americas and the Caribbean.

Viking Ocean Cruises this week announced it took delivery of Viking Sky, the company's third ship. "In the past two years, we have been encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response our first two ocean ships have generated among our guests and travel industry partners. Today we mark an important milestone in welcoming the third ship to our fleet. By the end of 2017 – our 20th year in business – we will also welcome our fourth ship, doubling our fleet in less than a year," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "With our fast-growing fleet and innovative design, we look forward to introducing even more experienced travelers to The Viking Way of destination-focused itineraries in the years to come."

The all-veranda Viking Sky is a sister ship to the award-winning Viking Star and Viking Sea, which launched in 2015 and 2016, respectively, to customer and industry acclaim.

Viking's ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boast 465 staterooms and accommodate 930 guests. In November 2017, Viking will also welcome Viking Sun, which will spend her maiden season sailing the company's first-ever World Cruise, which spans 141 days, five continents, 35 countries and 66 ports. Viking Spirit will join the fleet in 2018 and will sail itineraries in Australia, Asia and Alaska. A sixth, yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in 2019 and will mark Viking as the largest small ship ocean cruise line.

Carnival Ecstasy Emerges From Multi-million-dollar Makeover
The Charleston, S.C.-based Carnival Ecstasy has undergone a multi-million-dollar renovation that has added a variety of new dining and beverage innovations.

Carnival Ecstasy Emerges From Multi-million-dollar MakeoverThe features were incorporated during a two-week dry dock that took place from Jan. 10-24, 2017, in Freeport, The Bahamas.

Following the renovation, the ship returned to Charleston yesterday to resume its year-round schedule of four- to 10-day departures from that port.

Here's a look at the exciting options that have been added to Carnival Ecstasy:

• Guy's Burger Joint, a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries enjoyed amidst a décor that celebrates the chef's California roots and love of car culture

• BlueIguana Cantina, a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic, freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar

• Alchemy Bar, a "cocktail pharmacy"-themed lounge with mixologists who "prescribe" concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients with creative monikers like Forty is the New Twenty and The Restorative Basil Drop

• Cherry On Top, the "sweetest spot on board" which celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more

The new spaces complement Carnival Ecstasy's wide range of on-board features, including the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, a massive WaterWorks aqua park, a Serenity adults-only retreat, and a luxurious Spa Carnival health and wellness facility.

Carnival Ecstasy's schedule from Charleston encompasses year-round four- to seven-day cruises visiting popular destinations throughout The Bahamas and Caribbean. The ship will also operate a 10-day Carnival Journeys Caribbean voyage round-trip from Charleston Nov. 5-15, 2017.

Royal Caribbean Reports Over 25% Increase In Earnings
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. this week reported US GAAP and adjusted earnings for 2016 of $5.93 and $6.08 per share, respectively, resulting in more than a 25% increase in both US GAAP and adjusted earnings over 2015.

As the company enters its DOUBLE-DOUBLE year, forward bookings are at record levels and earnings are expected to be in the range of $6.90 - $7.10 per share.

Royal Caribbean Reports Over 25% Increase In Earnings"As we enter our DOUBLE-DOUBLE year, we have never been so well positioned," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "This program has done what it set out to do – bookings are at record levels, the preference our brands enjoy has never been stronger, we are on the cusp of investment grade ratings, our dividends are at an all-time high, costs have been well managed, and our guests' satisfaction has never been better. The DOUBLE-DOUBLE program helped reinforce the mindset and discipline across our organization which has gotten us here. For that I thank every one of the men and women whose passion and efforts are driving this performance. While currency and fuel are both significant negatives at the moment, our business continues to thrive."

FOURTH QUARTER RESULTS

US GAAP and Adjusted Net Income for the fourth quarter of 2016 were $261.1 million, or $1.21 per share and $264.7 million, or $1.23 per share, respectively, compared to US GAAP and Adjusted Net Income of $206.8 million, or $0.94 per share, for the same period last year. Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel were down 1.9%, better than guidance, driven by operational efficiencies. Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis increased 5.3%, below guidance due mainly to lower close-in pricing.

FULL YEAR 2016 RESULTS

US GAAP Net Income for the full year 2016 was $1.28 billion or $5.93 per share, compared to $665.8 million, or $3.02 per share in 2015. The 2015 figure includes a non-cash impairment charge related to the Pullmantur brand. Adjusted Net Income for the full year 2016 was $1.31 billion, or $6.08 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $1.07 billion, or $4.83 per share, for the full year 2015. This represents more than a 25% year-over-year increase in earnings per share.

Net Yields for the full year 2016 increased 3.9% on a Constant-Currency basis versus 3.5% in 2015 marking another year of consistent yield improvement.

NCC excluding fuel were up 0.9% on a Constant-Currency basis. The average bunker price net of hedging for full year 2016 was $522 per metric ton and consumption was 1,367,000 metric tons.

During 2016, both the US dollar and the price of fuel in world markets rose. There has historically been an inverse relationship between the foreign exchange impact on our currency exposures and fuel prices, but recently global trends have caused both factors to work against the business. For 2016, the net impact of currency and fuel was a negative $0.08 per share relative to January guidance.

FULL YEAR 2017

Royal Caribbean said that it's booked position for 2017 is better than last year's record high, and at higher rates. Strength from North American consumers is driving exceptionally positive trends for North American and European products. These trends, along with a positive outlook for Australia and a solid booked position in China for the first half of the year, are positioning the company for robust growth in 2017.

"Our global portfolio of products is demonstrating strength across virtually all key markets, positioning us to deliver strong yield growth in 2017," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer. "Strong topline growth combined with continued focus on cost management will generate another year of record setting results. Even with significant pressure from FX and fuel, we will deliver another stellar year."

Royal Caribbean said that it expects a Net Yield increase in the range of 4.0% to 6.0% on a Constant-Currency basis and 3.3% to 5.3% on an As-Reported basis for the full year.

NCC excluding fuel are expected to be flat on a Constant-Currency basis and flat to (1.0%) As-Reported.

Since our last earnings call, the dollar has continued to strengthen relative to the basket of currency exposures, and fuel prices have increased – negatively impacting 2017 earnings per share by $0.10.

Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, Royal Caribbean said that it currently estimates 2017 Adjusted EPS will be in the range of $6.90 - $7.10 per share.

FIRST QUARTER 2017

Constant-Currency and As-Reported Net Yields are expected to be up 4.5% to 5.0% and approximately 5.0%, respectively, in the first quarter of 2017. Robust demand in Australia for Ovation of the Seas and exceedingly strong demand for Harmony of the Seas in the Caribbean are key contributors to this yield improvement. The deconsolidation of Pullmantur is also a driver of yield growth in the quarter.

Cunard's Queen Victoria Becomes Largest Passenger Ship to Sail the Amazon
Cunard's Queen Victoria Becomes Largest Passenger Ship to Sail the AmazonThis morning, Cunard's luxury cruise ship, Queen Victoria, made her maiden voyage through the 'Meeting of Waters,' and became the largest passenger ship to sail the Amazon, sailing between the dark Rio Negro and the pale Amazon River in Manaus, Brazil.

Manaus marks the sixth out of 32 ports on Queen Victoria's 41,000 nautical mile, 120-night World Voyage.

"Queen Victoria's maiden call in Manaus represents the type of innovation and uniqueness that guests have come to expect from Cunard," said Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president, Cunard North America. "Since it pioneered World Cruising in 1922,

Cunard has continued to offer guests itineraries that visit exciting destinations and that offer unique 'firsts' that can only be experienced on Cunard."

Crystal Partners With Canadian Expedition Experts For Second Northwest Passage
Following its first-ever Northwest Passage sailing in 2016, Crystal Cruises' Crystal Serenity will again traverse the elusive waterway this August. Aboard the vessel will be a comprehensive team of Arctic experts from Canada-based Arctic Kingdom, global leaders in Arctic travel, who will share their knowledge and passion for the region's unique culture, wildlife and geography with guests onboard, as well as lead discovery expeditions ashore.

Polar Bears in the Arctic The 32-day voyage departs Anchorage/Seward, Alaska for New York City on August 15, 2017, and sails through some of the most spectacular, remote areas of the previously unpassable polar region. Crystal Serenity's 2017 Northwest Passage Explorer will mark the final voyage for a classic Crystal ocean ship to sail through the Arctic region. All-inclusive cruise fares start at $21,855 per person and are available for booking by contacting a travel professional or calling 888.799.2437. Crystal's "Crystal Clear Choices" promotional savings offers additional value for bookings made by March 31, 2017.

"The Arctic is like nowhere else on the planet," says Graham Dickson, Arctic Kingdom president and CEO. "As the top land-based operator in the Arctic, we are excited to be providing exceptional opportunities for Crystal Serenity guests to authentically experience the Arctic – unlike ever before."

Local Inuit guides, Northerners, marine biologists, archaeologists, expert divers, conservationists, photographers, and wildlife experts round out Arctic Kingdom's team of expedition leaders and speakers for the epic voyage. Besides the many environmental perspectives of the Arctic, there are several cultural nuances to be explored by Crystal guests during the historic passage with visits to Ulukhaktok, North West Territories; and Cambridge Bay and Pond Inlet, Nunavut.

"Partnering with Arctic Kingdom, the leading travel operator in this unique region, further raises the bar on the experience for our guests by offering them expertise from local adventurers," says Edie Rodriguez, Crystal's chairman, CEO and president. "Planning and collaboration with top experts and authorities is a must to ensure the safety of our guests and crew. We continue to work closely with the United States and Canadian Coast Guards, Transport Canada, and a myriad of federal, state, provincial, territorial and local government agencies."

In addition to carefully crafted Crystal Adventures, the ship's captain will safely position the ship to take advantage of impromptu "Unexpected Adventures," supported by Arctic Kingdom, including zodiac outings to view glaciers, kayaking in protected bays, and trekking the tundra with an expert guide, and helicopter flights to view the Arctic landscape from the air, favorable weather conditions permitting. Likewise, expedition teams will be scouting for wildlife including polar bears and whales throughout the voyage. Specialized viewing equipment on board will allow guests to experience incredible viewing from the comfort of the vessel.

Just as it was last year, Crystal Serenity will be accompanied through the Canadian Arctic by an escort vessel, providing enhanced safety and both vessels will use low-Sulphur Marine Gas oil fuel, exceeding environmental regulations. The escort vessel will carry additional safety and environmental protection equipment, as well as personnel specifically trained in its use. In addition, it will serve as a platform for two helicopters for ice reconnaissance and flight seeing, and zodiacs for landings in areas without a port facility. Both vessels will be manned by highly trained crew members and Canadian ice-pilots experienced in all aspects of operating safely in the Canadian Arctic.

Crystal's 2019 Collection Of Globetrotting Voyages Unveiled
With a continued focus on more choices of luxurious ways to travel the world, Crystal is the first cruise line to officially unveil a full collection of worldwide itineraries for 2019, and all are open for booking beginning today. The voyages span the entire water-faring Crystal portfolio to create an unparalleled year of luxury global exploration. By the numbers, eight Crystal ships – two award-winning ocean vessels; five luxury river yachts; and one boutique yacht – will sail a total of 260 voyages to 91 countries, visiting 298 ports, including 13 maiden calls and at least one overnight stay in 71 destinations.

Crystal's 2019 Collection Of Globetrotting Voyages UnveiledIn addition to having nearly two full years to plan their intrepid worldwide vacations, savvy travelers can choose from a vast array of distinctly luxurious travel experiences that literally cover the globe. Among the many highlights are:

Hot trending destinations, including Croatia's Dalmatian Coast, Jerusalem and Jordan with Crystal Serenity, and New Zealand with Crystal Symphony

Remote, less visited sites including the Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia and Aitutaki Island, New Zealand with Crystal Symphony and Liverpool's Isle of Man with Crystal Serenity

Maiden calls with Crystal Symphony to Hualien, Taiwan; Ishigaki, Japan; Vlissingen, Netherlands; and Port Arthur, Tasmania; with Crystal Serenity Kangaroo Island, Australia; and Porto Novo, Cape Verde

Expanded Holy Land discovery, with three full days spent in Israel, plus visits to Jordan and Greece aboard Crystal Symphony

Warm weather winter getaways through South America and along the North American Gulf Coast, featuring overnights in New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, Punta Del Este and Buenos Aires, all aboard Crystal Symphony

Cultural powerhouse itineraries including a Crystal Serenity Northern Europe route that includes three full days in UNESCO-recognized Bordeaux, plus extended exploration in Bruegge, Amsterdam, Bilbao and the Basque region of St. Jean-du-Luz and the Rioja wine region

Springtime discovery of New England and Canada, (historically set for fall, when the foliage is vibrant and the air is crisp) for a fresh perspective on a long beloved and historically rich region aboard Crystal Serenity

More French flair, with Crystal Serenity overnight in Honfleur with an option to travel to Paris and visits to Monet's Garden in Giverny, Deauville, plus an optional journey to Versailles

French Polynesia and New Zealand-focused discoveries, with Crystal Symphony itineraries sailing to the Cook Islands, Easter Island, Tauranga and Rotorua

The world's premier wine regions, featured on a number of specialized itineraries, including the Chianti region, Bordeaux, Rioja and Napier

Exploration of four major European rivers, with Crystal River Cruises the first river cruise line to reveal its 2019 itineraries, ranging from 7-day voyages on Crystal Mozart to 16-day sailings aboard Crystal Mahler. Five elegant vessels sail along the Danube, Rhine, Main and Moselle Rivers on 142 enchanting voyages through Austria, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Netherlands.

Exclusive boutique yachting access to the harbors of the West Indies, with Crystal Esprit sailing routes from Marigot Bay, St. Martin/St. Maarten to coveted spots including St. Barts/Gustavia, Jost Van Dyke, Anegada and Virgin Gorda.

Virtually every travel interest is represented on Crystal's 2019 collection of voyages. Classically inquisitive guests will relish visits to romantic sites in Florence, Rome, Monaco and Cinque Terre. Night owls will appreciate the party atmosphere in Rio de Janeiro, Ibiza, St Tropez and Buenos Aires. Adventurers will dive in to opportunities to navigate the jungles of Costa Rica and scout the Big Five on Zimbabwe safaris. And foodies will find specialized programming that showcases the local flavors of nearly every region visited.

"The coming years with Crystal will only expand the options available to even the most worldly travelers, as we continue to pioneer new itineraries and visit new locales, as well as cultivate fresh perspectives and ways to explore places long favored by our discerning guests," says Crystal Chairman, CEO and President Edie Rodriguez. "2019 represents the culmination of several upcoming offerings that we're ecstatic to share with guests, along with the future launch of a new vessel that will expand the possibilities for virtually every type of traveler."

Carnival Corporation Announces Strategic Partnership with A+E Networks
Carnival Corporation today announced an expansion of its O·C·E·A·N original content portfolio with the premiere of “Good Spirits” on FYI beginning Thursday, February 16 at 6 p.m. ET and A&E on February 18 at 12 p.m. ET.

Good Spirits” joins pioneering cocktail chef Matthew Biancaniello as he sails the globe on the company’s world leading cruise lines“Good Spirits” joins pioneering cocktail chef Matthew Biancaniello as he sails the globe on the company’s world leading cruise lines in search of extraordinary everyday people, sharing the stories of spirits and collecting farm fresh, native ingredients to inspire one-of-a-kind cocktail creations.

The 30-minute, 10-episode series is the fourth originally produced program in Carnival Corporation’s growing portfolio of inspiring experiential content, following the debut of three TV series that currently air on major broadcast networks on Saturday mornings being viewed by millions each week.

“The first three series that launched in the fall have resonated strongly with viewers and the experiential content strategy is generating the intended results -- which is to showcase that cruising is a great vacation experience while increasing interest and intent to cruise,” said John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer for Carnival Corporation. “Expanding the diversity of our content while extending into an evening time slot allows us to showcase our diverse portfolio of vacation experiences to an entirely different group of viewers.”

Custom short-form vignettes will showcase how-to drink recipes inspired by each new episode. These vignettes will debut on air and natively across the FYI social and digital platforms throughout the series’ 10-week run. Also coinciding with the series, Carnival Corporation and A+E Networks will launch a sweepstakes offering audiences a chance to win a seven-day cruise for two.

“We are thrilled to be working with Carnival Corporation on this unique partnership,” said Jim Hoffman, EVP of Strategic Initiatives, A+E Networks. “Good Spirits” fits perfectly at A+E Networks where our diverse portfolio of brands reaches a young, upscale audience with premium, original content across multiple platforms.”

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 55.65 + 3.50%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 94.40 + 11.11%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.341 - 1.28%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 48.03 + 4.41%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the 1972 book and author that contributed significantly to the renewal of interest in ocean liners and cruise ships? Bonus Question: Name the follow-up book published in 1985.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Name the two 14,000 ton sister ships that entered service for Cunard in 1971 & 1972 and were replaced in 1976 & 1977.

Answer - The ships that entered Cunard's fleet in 1971 and 1972 were the Cunard Adventurer (Sunward II, Triton, Coral) and the Cunard Ambassador. They were replaced in 1976 and 1977 by the Cunard Countess and Cunard Princess.
courtesy of Patrick Race, Berkeley CA.

VACATION & CRUISE SPECIALS
Check out these great deals from CruisePage.com

Royal Caribbean - Bahamas Getaway from $129 per person
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Carnival - 4-Day Bahamas  from $229 per person
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NCL - Bermuda - 7 Day from $499 per person
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